One Hit Wonders #10: “Summertime Blues” by Blue Cheer (Philips Records 1968)


cracked rear viewer

Direct from Haight-Ashbury, psychedelic hard rockers Blue Cheer ushered in the Age of Heavy Metal with “Summertime Blues”, reaching #14 on the Billboard charts in 1968 (Crank It Up LOUD!):

Singer/bassist Dickie Peterson, who lived on San Francisco’s Haight Street during the “Summer of Love” days, originally formed the band as a five-piece group, but stripped down to the power trio model popularized by Cream and The Jimi Hendrix Experience, with Leigh Stephens on guitar and Paul Whaley on drums. Blue Cheer’s hair was longer, and their sound more ear-splitting, than anyone around, and the band’s thundering heavy metal noise made both the single and their debut album “Vincebus Eruptum” into classics of early metal then and collector’s items today.

Blue Cheer’s classic lineup: Dickie Peterson, Leigh Stephens, and Paul Whaley

The band went through numerous personnel changes before breaking up in 1970. Peterson reformed the group in the 80’s…

View original post 256 more words

Song of the Day: Paradise City (by Guns N’ Roses)


Paradise City

One cannot reminisce about the 80’s music scene without including the biggest (and most dangerous) band of that decade. Well, the band and it’s handlers sure thought of them that way. The band I speak of is Guns N’ Roses. this was the band that dared to put the word hard back into hard rock after the glam metal scene began to turn it into a joke.

Nothing against glam metal. Mötley Crüe was and is a favorite rock band of the 80’s for me. Yet, even they succumbed to the hairspray overload that glam metal would turn into. These bands became more about their look (especially in their music videos) than actually playing good music.

Guns N’ Roses still had the teased hair, but their music when they released their Appetite for Destruction album was a breath of fresh air in the hard rock scene and would grab glam metal fans from the vapors of hairnet spray into the dark, dingy bluesy lounges and then the overwhelming open air arenas.

I’ve already featured two of the bands most famous tracks from their first album, “Welcome to the Jungle” and “Sweet Child o’ Mine”, so it’s time to give their third biggest hit from this album time to shine.

“Paradise City” is a place we all should aspire to visit.

Paradise City

Take me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty
Take me home (Oh, won’t you please take me home?)

Take me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty
Take me home (Oh, won’t you please take me home?)

Just an urchin livin’ under the street
I’m a hard case that’s tough to beat
I’m your charity case so buy me somethin’ to eat
I’ll pay you at another time
Take it to the end of the line

Rags to riches or so they say
You gotta keep pushin’ for the fortune and fame
You know it’s, it’s all a gamble when it’s just a game
You treat it like a capital crime
Everybody’s doin’ their time

Take me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty
Oh, won’t you please take me home, yeah, yeah?

Take me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty
Take me home

Strapped in the chair of the city’s gas chamber
Why I’m here, I can’t quite remember
The surgeon general says it’s hazardous to breathe
I’d have another cigarette but I can’t see
Tell me who ya gonna believe

Take me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty
Take me home, yeah, yeah
Take me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty
Oh, won’t you please take me home, yeah?

So far away
So far away
So far away
So far away

Captain America’s been torn apart
Now he’s a court jester with a broken heart
He said “Turn me around and take me back to the start”
I must be losin’ my mind, are you blind?
I’ve seen it all a million times

Take me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty
Take me home, yeah, yeah

Take me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty
Oh, won’t you please take me home?

Take me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty
Take me home, yeah, yeah

Take me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty
Oh, won’t you please take me home, home

Oh, I want to go, I want to know
Oh, won’t you please take me home?
I want to see how good it can be
Oh, won’t you please take me home?

Take me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty
Take me home

Take me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty
Oh, won’t you please take me home?

Take me down, take me down
Oh, won’t you please take me home?
I want to see how good it can be
Oh, won’t you please take me home?

I want to see how good it can be
Oh, oh take me home

Take me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty
Oh, won’t you please take me home?

I want to know, I want to know
Oh, won’t you please take me home?
Yeah, baby

 

Song of the Day: 1980’s Edition

  1. Everybody Wants To Rule The World (by Tears for Fears)
  2. Hazy Shade of Winter (by The Bangles)
  3. Never (by Heart)
  4. Kyrie (by Mr. Mister)
  5. Waiting For A Girl Like You (by Foreigner)

Song of the Day: Killed by Death (by Motörhead)


Lemmy Kilmister

Late today the heavy metal and hard rock world were hit with some sad news. Lemmy Kilmister (born Ian Fraser Kilmister) died at the age of 70 from cancer.

Lemmy was the frontman and the face of the band Motörhead and one the great bassist of hard rock and heavy metal. His band would help influence the rise of both speed metal and thrash metal. The band would combine the speed of punk with the heavy sound of metal. While he would never acknowledge his contribution to both speed and thrash, Lemmy and his band’s influence would be felt early on. Metallica even covered one of the band’s classic songs, “Overkill”, as a birthday gift to Lemmy.

Lemmy lived his life as he saw fit. He drank, did the drugs, had the sex and continued to do so despite what the world at large thought of such behavior. He was one of the true gods of rock and his presence will be sorely missed. Yet, despite his passing he would be the first to tell everyone to get off their asses and celebrate his life and not mourn his death.

I plan to do just that and drink a couple fingers of bourbon in his honor. Bourbon

Rest in peace Lemmy.

Killed by Death

If you squeeze my lizard
I´ll put my snake on you
I´m a romantic adventure
And I´m a reptile too

CHORUS:
But it don´t make no difference
´cos I ain´t gonna be, easy, easy
the only time I´m gonna be easy´s when I´m
Killed by death
Killed by death
Killed by death
Killed by death

I´m a lone wolf ligger
But I ain´t no pretty boy
I´m a backbone shiver
and I´m a bundle of joy

CHORUS

But it don´t make no difference
´cos I ain´t gonna be, easy, easy
the only time I´m easy´s when I´m
Killed by death
Killed by death
Killed by death
Killed by death

Killed by death
Killed by death
Killed by death
Killed by death

Boobs, Music, and Sci-Fi: Heavy Metal (1981, directed by Gerald Potterton)


Heavy MetalI think I was twelve when I first saw Heavy Metal.  It came on HBO one night and I loved it.  So did all of my friends.  Can you blame us?  It had everything that a twelve year-old boy (especially a 12 year-old boy who was more than a little on the nerdy side) could want out of a movie: boobs, loud music, and sci-fi violence.  It was a tour of our secret fantasies.  The fact that it was animated made it all the better.  Animated films were not supposed to feature stuff like this.  When my friends and I watched Heavy Metal, we felt like we were getting away with something.

Based on stories from the adults-only Heavy Metal Magazine, Heavy Metal was divided into 8 separate segments:

Soft Landing (directed by Jimmy T. Murakami and John Bruno, written by Dan O’Bannon)

Heavy Metal opens brilliantly with a Corvette being released from a space shuttle and then flying down to Earth, surviving reentry without a scratch.  Who, after watching this, has not wanted a Space Corvette of his very own?

Grimaldi (directed by Harold Whitaker)

On Earth, a terrified young girl listens a glowing green meteorite called the Loc-Nar tells her that it is the source of all evil in the universe.  This sets up the rest of the film, which is made up of stories that the Loc-Nar tells about its influence.  The Loc-Nar is the film’s MacGuffin and, seen today, one of Heavy Metal’s biggest problems is that it has to find a way to force the Loc-Nar into every story, even if it meant sacrificing any sort of consistency about what the Loc-Nar was capable of doing.  Even when I was twelve, I realized that the Loc-Nar was not really that important.

Harry Canyon (directed by Pino Van Lamsweerde, written by Daniel Goldberg)

In this neo-noir tale, futuristic cabby Harry Canyon (voiced by Richard Romanus) is enlisted to help an unnamed girl (voiced by Susan Roman) to find the Loc-Nar.  Slow and predictable, Harry Canyon does feature the voice of John Candy as a police sergeant who attempts to charge Harry for police work.

den_1268427864Den (directed by Jack Stokes, written by Richard Corben)

Nerdy teenager David (voiced by John Candy) finds a piece of the Loc-Nar and is transported to the world of Neverwhere, where he is transformed into Den, a muscular, bald warrior.  As Den, David gets to live out the fantasies of Heavy Metal‘s target audience.  On his new planet, Den rescues an Earth woman from being sacrificed, overthrows an evil queen and a sorcerer, and gets laid.  A lot.  Den is the best segment in Heavy Metal, largely because of the endearing contrast between the action onscreen and John Candy’s enthusiastic narration.

Captain Sternn (directed by Paul Sebella and Julian Harris, written by Bernie Wrightson)

heavy-metal_captain-sternOn a space station orbiting the Earth, Captain Lincoln F. Sternn is on trail for a countless number of offenses.  Though guilty, Captain Sternn expects to be acquitted because he has bribed the prosecution’s star witness, Hanover Fiste.  However, Hanover is holding the Loc-Nar in his hand and it causes him to tell the truth about Captain Sternn and eventually turn into a bloodthirsty giant. Captain Sternn saves the day by tricking Hanover into getting sucked out of an air lock.

Captain Sternn was a reoccurring character in Heavy Metal Magazine and his segment is one of the best.  Eugene Levy voices Captain Sternn while Joe Flaherty voices his lawyer and Dean Wormer himself, John Vernon, is the prosecutor.  Even National Lampoon co-founder Douglas Kenney provided a voice.

 B-17 (directed by Barrie Nelson, written by Dan O’Bannon)

After the Loc-Nar enters Earth’s atmosphere, it crashes into a bullet-riddled World War II bomber, causing the dead crewmen within to reanimate as zombies.  Scored to Don Felder’s Heavy Metal (Takin’ a Ride), B-17 is one of the shorter segments and its dark and moody animation holds up extremely well.

So Beautiful and So Dangerous (directed by John Halas, written by Angus McKie)

Nubile Pentagon secretary Gloria is beamed aboard a spaceship that looks like a giant smiley face.  While she has sex with the ship’s robot captain, the two crew members (voiced by Harold Ramis and Eugene Levy) pour out a long line of cocaine and shout “Nosedive!” before snorting up every flake.  So Beautiful and So Dangerous is so juvenile and so ridiculous that it is actually all kinds of awesome.

Taarna

SacrificedIn the film’s final and most famous segment, Taarna, the blond warrior was featured on Heavy Metal‘s poster, rides a pterodactyl across a volcanic planet, killing barbarians, and finally confronting the Loc-Nar.  She sacrifices herself to defeat the Loc-Nar but no worries!  We return to Earth where, for some reason, the Loc-Nar explodes and the girl from the beginning of the film is revealed to be Taarna reborn.  She even gets to fly away on her pterodactyl.  Taarna was really great when I was twelve but today, it is impossible to watch it without flashing back to the Major Boobage episode of South Park.

Much like Taarna, Heavy Metal seems pretty silly when I watch it today.  But when I was twelve, it was the greatest thing ever.

Taarna_Heavy_Metal

 

Song of the Day: Turn the Page (Metallica)


MetallicaTurnthePage

Through good times and bad I have always been a huge fan and follower of Metallica. Even as they foolishly went off track following the path Bob Rock set for them throughout most of the 1990’s through the disastrous St. Anger debacle as they tried to return to their earlier sound, I have always followed this band which made up the original Big 4 of thrash metal (Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth).

It was on their 1998 cover album, Garage Inc., that the band released one of their most popular songs. It wasn’t an original, but a cover of the classic Bob Seger hard rock song about the hard road and life of a musician. Seger’s “Turn the Page” is just one of those hard rock tunes that latches onto the listener and forces them to listen and understand. Most such songs tend to be quite pretentious with nothing much to say once the listener really pays attention. The same cannot be said about Seger’s song.

Metallica decided to cover this song for their Garage Inc. album which was all about them covering their own favorite hard rock and metal songs of the past. While Metallica kept the original’s tempo, they added their own heavier and harder edge to song that straddles the line between hard rock and heavy metal. Even James Hetfield’s alcohol and cigarette ravaged vocals lent a sense of the hard road and life the track sings about.

The biggest change from the Seger song to Metallica’s cover has to be the accompanying music video which still remains one of the most controversial in MTV’s music video history (well, when they still played music videos). Seger’s song was released in 1973 when the concept of music video was nonexistent. With Metallica’s cover it was almost a guarantee that it would get a music video and what a video it was and still is.

The video was directed by Jonas Akerlund who had made a name for himself directing some of the most creative and innovative music videos of the day. His take on the song switches from a musician’s hard road and life on the road to that of a single mother trying to make ends meet as an erotic dancer by day and a prostitute by night to provide for her young daughter. The video was banned from receiving any sort of airplay on MTV as it dealt and showed the disturbing side of such a life. The fact that the tamer version of the video (below) still couldn’t make it on the airwaves just showed how much more haunting and controversial the uncensored version turned out to be.

Turn the Page

On a long and lonesome highway,
East of Omaha
You can listen to the engines
Moanin’ out it’s one note song
You can think about the woman,
Or the girl you knew the night before
But your thoughts will soon be wanderin’,
The way they always do
When you’re ridin’ 16 hours,
And there’s nothin’ much to do
And you don’t feel much like ridin’,
You just wish the trip was through

(Chorus)

Here I am, on the road again,
There I am, up on the stage
There I go, playin’ star again,
There I go, turn the page

So you walk into this restaurant,
All strung out from the road
And you feel the eyes upon you,
As you’re shakin’ off the cold
You pretend it doesn’t bother you,
But you just want to explode
Yeah, most times you can’t hear ’em talk,
Other times you can

All the same old cliches,
Is it woman, is it man
And you always seem outnumbered,
You don’t dare make a stand
Make your stand

(Chorus)
Ah But here I am, on the road again,
There I am, up on the stage
Here I go, ah playin’ star again,
There I go, turn the page
Woah

Out there in the spotlight,
You’re a million miles away
Every ounce of energy,
You try and give away
As the sweat pours out your body,
Like the music that you play

Later in the evenin’,
As you lie awake in bed
With the echoes of the amplifiers,
Ringin’ in your head
You smoke the day’s last cigarette,
Rememberin’ what she said

What she said

Yeah, and here I am,
On the road again,
There I am, up on that stage
Here I go, playin’ star again,
There I go, turn the page
And there I go, turn that page

There I go, yeah, Here I go, yeah, yeah
There I go, yeah, Here I go, yeah
Here I go, There I go
And I’m gone

Song of the Day: War Pigs (by Black Sabbath)


BlackSabbath

“War Pigs” is the classic heavy metal song by the godfathers of heavy metal itself, Black Sabbath. This song will kick you in the nuts from it’s ominous bass heavy intro right through one of the best guitar solos in the middle right up to it’s epic ending. It’s not a surprise that many heavy metal fans both new and old still consider this one of the best heavy metal songs ever. It also highlights Ozzy Osbourne as a frontman who became a template for future metal frontmen everywhere. Hearing him sing out the lyrics reminds us that he wasn’t a mumbling, drug-scarred reality tv show personlality. Ozzy was the face of metal and his voice in the early albums of Black Sabbath was one of the best in the business.

The song itself is actually an anti-war song despite many uses of it in films, tv and trailers highlighting war and violence. Last year’s 300: Rise of An Empire literally reveled in using this song for it’s end credits. Which makes me wonder if those who actually listened to this song actually listened to the lyrics after the first verse.

The lyrics speaks of the inequality of war and how those most willing to begin one are the rich and powerful (meaning they would never ever be put into harm’s way) while those who do the killing and dying are the poor and downtrodden. The interesting thing about this song is how it’s early version was not an anti-war one but just a metal song about witches and black magic rituals. The early name for the song was “Walpurgis” but with the band already being seen as Satanic by puritanical groups in England and in the US they were convinced to change the title to “War Pigs” and adjusted the lyrics to make it the anti-war song it is today.

No matter it’s history and backstory, “War Pigs” remain one of the essential heavy metal songs that any prospective heavy metal newbie needs to listen to and study.

War Pigs

Generals gathered in their masses
Just like witches at black masses
Evil minds that plot destruction
Sorcerers of death’s construction
In the fields the bodies burning
As the war machine keeps turning
Death and hatred to mankind
Poisoning their brainwashed minds
Oh lord yeah!

Politicians hide themselves away
They only started the war
Why should they go out to fight?
They leave that role to the poor

Time will tell on their power minds
Making war just for fun
Treating people just like pawns in chess
Wait ’til their judgment day comes
Yeah!

(guitar solo)

Now in darkness world stops turning
Ashes where the bodies burning
No more war pigs have the power
Hand of God has struck the hour
Day of judgment, God is calling
On their knees the war pig’s crawling
Begging mercy for their sins
Satan laughing spreads his wings
Oh lord yeah!

(guitar solo)

Great Guitar Solos Series

Song of the Day: Rock You Like A Hurricane (by Scorpions)


Scorpions

Here I am!

I think I’ve been saying that all day and it’s all because of a very catchy and classic hard rock song from my youth. It’s also the latest “Song of the Day” and marks another entry in the current series of great guitar solos.

“Rock You Like A Hurricane” by Scorpions was one of those rock songs during the 1980’s that really help propel a very good rock band into the next level of epicness (yes, that’s a word I decided is a real one). It was also a song that took advantage of the new visual media called music video to help market it to a much wider audience.

Many people tend to just fixate on the chorus of the song and tend to not remember the bulk of the songs lyrics. If they did they would realize it’s quite the raunchy bit of songwriting. The song is pretty much about someone looking to hook up and once partner has been chosen…well we know by the chorus how the encounter will develop and end up.

For a song about no-nonsense one-night stands it also has a classic guitar solo in the middle by lead guitarist Matthias Jabs that has been admired by listeners since the song’s inception. Jabs might not be as well known outside of the hard rock and heavy metal community, but his guitar playing talent was and is just as good as any of his contemporaries during the early 80’s.

Rock You Like A Hurricane

It’s early morning, the sun comes out
Last night was shaking and pretty loud
My cat is purring, it scratches my skin
So what is wrong with another sin?

The bitch is hungry, she needs to tell
So give her inches and feed her well
More days to come, new places to go
I’ve got to leave, it’s time for a show

Here I am
Rock you like a hurricane
Here I am
Rock you like a hurricane

My body is burning, it starts to shout
Desire is coming, it breaks out loud
Lust is in cages till storm breaks loose
Just have to make it with someone I choose

The night is calling, I have to go
The wolf is hungry, he runs the show
He’s licking his lips, he’s ready to win
On the hunt tonight for love at first sting

Here I am
Rock you like a hurricane (Are you ready, baby?)
Here I am
Rock you like a hurricane
Here I am
Rock you like a hurricane (Come on, come on, baby)
Here I am
Rock you like a hurricane

Rock you like a hurricane

(guitar solo)

It’s early morning, the sun comes out
Last night was shaking and pretty loud
My cat is purring, it scratched my skin
So what is wrong with another sin?

The night is calling, I have to go
The wolf is hungry, he runs the show
He’s licking his lips, he’s ready to win
On the hunt tonight for love at first sting

Here I am
Rock you like a hurricane (Are you ready, baby?)
Here I am
Rock you like a hurricane
Here I am
Rock you like a hurricane (Come on, come on, come on, come on, come on)
Here I am
Rock you like a hurricane

Here I am

Great Guitar Solos Series