Monday, November 29, 2010

Iowa (50 Songs For 50 States)

I've never made my way to or through Iowa. Part of me is afraid that I'd run into the guys from Slipknot. It's not the masks that scare me or their overly aggressive's the fact that they are identified by numbers. Are you automatically given a number at birth if you're born in Iowa? I guess we all are (social security) but I'm afraid if I step foot in the Hawkeye state that I'll be followed around by #3 or #56 or #194. Their song "Iowa" from their 2001 album of the same title seems to fit the bill for the 50 state tour. Slipknot said they derive a lot of inspiration from their home state in their music. While recording the song "Iowa", lead singer Corey Taylor, or if you're talking Iowan, #8, recorded the song completely naked, vomiting on himself and cutting himself with broken glass. Maybe I'll hold off on a trip to Iowa for awhile...or forever. But at least I can throw in Slipknot's "Iowa" for the 50 state tour.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Adzilla's Hair Metal Closet (Volume 1)

Adzilla is going through old cassettes and compact discs and now you, yes you the reader, get to reap the benefits as he brings you his first installment of "Adzilla's Hair Metal Closet". His main focus is on the albums, the ones that time has forgotten and the songs from these albums as the hair metal genre came to a screeching halt in the early nineties. Links to the songs are provided to navigate you back in time when grunge music ruled and hair metal was dying. Enjoy!
Band: Saigon Kick
All Music Guide Band Description: Hard Rockers from Miami who formed a band in 1988.
Most Successful Single: "Love Is On The Way" (#12 Billboard Hot 100-1992)

Adzilla Album: "The Lizard" (1992)
Charting Position: #80 (The Billboard 200) 
Best Known Single from "The Lizard": "Love Is On The Way"
The Adzilla Shakedown: Check out "Body Bags" (Hilarious)
Band: Faster Pussycat
All Music Guide Band Description: Sleazy Hollywood metal band whose name was lifted from a Russ Meyer flick.
Most Successful Single: "House Of Pain" (#28-The Billboard 100-1990)

Adzilla Album: "Whipped" (1992)
Charting Position: #90 (The Billboard 200) 
Best Known Single from "Whipped": "Nonstop To Nowhere" (#35 Mainstream Rock)
The Adzilla Shakedown: Check out "Big Dictionary", if you can find it on the web.
Band: Trixter
All Music Guide Band Description: Although formed in 1983 in Paramus, NJ, Trixter's big break didn't come until 1989, when the band decamped to Hollywood (the unofficial headquarters of hair metal) to record for MCA Records.
Most Successful Single: "Give It To Me Good" (#65-The Billboard Hot 100-1990)

Adzilla Album: "Hear!" (1992)
Charting Position: #109 (The Billboard 200) 
Best Known Single from "Hear!": "Road Of A Thousand Dreams" (Chart Position: N/A) 
The Adzilla Shakedown: Check out "Rockin' Horse"
Band: Firehouse
All Music Guide Band Description: Firehouse arrived at the tail end of the pop-metal explosion of the late '80s and early '90s, releasing their first album in 1991.
Most Successful Single: "Love Of A Lifetime" (#5-The Billboard Hot 100-1991)

Adzilla Album: "Hold Your Fire" (1992)
Charting Position: #23 (The Billboard 200) 
Best Known Single from "Hold Your Fire": "When I Look Into Your Eyes" (#8 The Billboard Hot 100)
The Adzilla Shakedown: Check out "Reach For The Sky" (#83-The Billboard Hot 100)
Band: Warrant
All Music Guide Band Description: Warrant was one of the most popular pop-metal bands of the late '80s.
Most Successful Single: "Heaven" (#2-The Billboard Hot 100-1989)

Adzilla Album: "Dog Eat Dog" (1992)
Charting Position: #25 (The Billboard 200) 
Best Known Single from "Dog Eat Dog": "Machine Gun" (#36 Mainstream Rock)
The Adzilla Shakedown: Check out "The Bitter Pill" and "April 2031"

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Deep Purple-Machine Head (JHO Hall Of Fame)

It would be hard pressed for me to find an album I adored as much as Deep Purple's "Machine Head" when I was a young kid and never waive that admiration as years went on. I was probably somewhere between 6-8 years old going through my dad's vinyl collection and asked him which album had "Smoke On The Water". He directed me to "Machine Head" and said "Fireball" was just as good. But not trusting me with vinyl and a needle at a young age (who would), he gave me a copy of "The Book Of Tailesyn" instead for my "kid's" record player. It was an earlier album by the band that didn't even feature lead singer Ian Gillan or bassist Roger Glover but did have a mean version of Neil Diamond's "Kentucky Woman" on it though. I don't know when I graduated to actually listening to "Machine Head" on the main stereo, but my father was smart. I scratched the hell out of "The Book Of Tailesyn". That wouldn't have been allowed for one of the greatest, and sometimes overlooked, heavy metal albums of the early seventies and of all time.

That's my back story. What always struck me about Deep Purple's "Mark II Lineup" was that it was a band firing on all cylinders for three great albums ("In Rock", "Fireball", and "Machine Head"). While Zeppelin got inspiration from old blues singers and Black Sabbath were writing the book on stoner metal, this version of Deep Purple were inventing their own definition of heavy metal, and at times, speed and thrash. They were proto. "Machine Head" is where it all culminated to seven fantastic songs.

The starter "Highway Star" chugs along on Glover's bass line until the abrupt screams of Gillan break through the speakers...and you've got a song about loving your car, or as Gillan reminds you..."Nobody's Gonna Take My Car!". Typical for Deep Purple's finer moments was the great solos coming from keyboardist Jon Lord and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, and their turns on "Highway Star" are nothing short of remarkable. Blackmore's guitar solo has to be one of the best of all time. Gillan's vocal chords are gold as well as screeches "I love her, I need her...". Two other well known AOR staples are "Lazy" which has Lord's Hammond organ swirling around the room like a church sermon in purgatory for the intro and "Space Truckin'" which shows how great of a drummer Ian Paice is with his snare drum roll at the end of the song sounding so tight you feel as though it could be illegal to play "that" tight. With "Lazy", by the time Gillan chimes in, you've already been through one of the greater jams with Blackmore delivering a great guitar line and Lord churning the organ relentlessly then Gillan's harmonica solo adds even more depth. With "Space Truckin'", as the song fades into oblivion with Gillan screaming and the rest of the band pounding out the incessant rhythm, you just don't want the album to end...but you feel as though the band is fading into oblivion, or into the heavy metal Milky Way.

Sometimes the album tracks or lesser known songs on albums can be less than desirable, but "Machine Head" has a first side that includes the beautifully sinister offbeat melody of "Maybe I'm A Leo", the theatrics that metal bands in future generations have tapped into but not as gracefully as "Pictures Of Home", and the understated, woe is me boogie of their first single "Never Before", which for some reason was never a bigger hit than it was in 1972.

Of course the pinnacle moment on "Machine Head" is Deep Purple's biggest hit "Smoke On The Water". The song pretty much tells the story of how and why the album was made. The guitar intro is something all guitar players starting out try to learn because it seems simplistic and is downright catchy. The way each instrument is brought in until Glover's bass ties it together for the first verse paints an ominous scene. Its theme is brought together by Gillan who tells the story of the band going to Montreux, Switzerland to record their new album. It was going to be live, but the venue/casino they were going to record in burned to the ground during a Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention concert. "Some stupid with a flare gun", as Gillan states in a verse, is the guy responsible for the fire. After losing their venue, the band scrambled and ended up recording a lot of the album at the Montreux Grand Hotel. Can you honestly think of another song that tells a fascinating story of recording circumstances of an album...all in a top five hit? "Smoke on the water.........Fire in the sky."

"Machine Head" is only seven songs long, pretty much on par with any Deep Purple album from their early days, but what a dynamic seven songs they are. But as with any band who records six albums and tours relentlessly for a period of only three and a half years, exhaustion and inner feuding is bound to set in. And it did. And Deep Purple never had a moment as shining as "Machine Head" again. But to its credit, it can be a fascination to a young guitarist or a kid like me just learning the vast sea of music and it can hold that staying power as you get older. And with countless fads and genres of music that have passed since 1972, "Machine Head" still stands as a weathered warrior, one who ushered in heavy metal and did it with smart songwriting and some excellent instrumentation. Put it in the hall....I say.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tuesday's Top Ten: U2 Albums

The guys from Ireland have had their fair shake of successful albums, 12 long player originals to be exact. Time to sort them out on this top ten. And the first two are interchangeable, but I guess I got to shake one to first right? And "Pop" and "October" missed the no mentions of "Miami" or "Gloria". Here's my top ten:

1. Joshua Tree (1987)
Favorite Single: With Or Without You
Favorite Jukebox Single: Where The Streets Have No Name
Unpolished Gem: One Tree Hill
Memorable Line: I See Seven Towers, But I Only See One Way Out (Running To Stand Still)

2. Achtung Baby (1991)
Favorite Single: One
Favorite Jukebox Single: The Fly
Unpolished Gem: Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
Memorable Line: A Woman Needs A Man, Like A Fish Needs A Bicycle (Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around The World)

3. War (1983)
Favorite Single: New Year's Day
Favorite Jukebox Single: Sunday Bloody Sunday
Unpolished Gem: Seconds
Memorable Line: Can't Stop The Dance/Maybe, This Is Our Last Chance (Two Hearts Beat As One)

4. Zooropa (1993)
Favorite Single: Stay (Faraway, So Close)
Favorite Jukebox Single: Lemon
Unpolished Gem: The First Time
Memorable Line: Some Days Are Bouncers That Won't Let You In (Some Days Are Better Than Others)

5. All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000)
Favorite Single: Beautiful Day
Favorite Jukebox Single: Elevation
Unpolished Gem: In A Little While
Memorable Line: I Want You To Know, That You Don't Need Me Anymore (Kite)

6. Boy (1980)
Favorite Single: I Will Follow
Favorite Jukebox Single:Out Of Control
Unpolished Gem: An Cat Dubh/Into The Heart
Memorable Line: Sometimes The Hero Takes Me/Sometimes I Can't Let Go (Stories For Boys) 

7. The Unforgettable Fire (1984)
Favorite Single: Bad
Favorite Jukebox Single: The Unforgettable Fire
Unpolished Gem: Wire
Memorable Line: Colors Clash Collide In The Twilight (Bad)

8. How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (2004)
Favorite Single: Vertigo
Favorite Jukebox Single: City Of Blinding Lights
Unpolished Gem: Original Of The Species
Memorable Line: I Need To Let You Know, You Don't Have To Go It Alone (Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own)

9. Rattle and Hum (1988) 
Favorite Single: All I Want Is You
Favorite Jukebox Single: Desire
Unpolished Gem: Hawkmoon 269
Memorable Line: Don't Believe In The Uzi That Just Went Off In My Hand (God Part II)

10. No Line On The Horizon (2010)
Favorite Single: Magnificent
Favorite Jukebox Single: Get On Your Boots
Unpolished Gem: Moment Of Surrender
Memorable Line: It's Not A Hill, It's A Mountain (I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Crazy Tonight)

Friday, November 19, 2010

New Music Reviews: Sufjan Stevens-The Age Of Adz

Stevens released his much anticipated first full length album "The Age Of Adz" in the beginning of October after a five year hiatus. And I'll tell ya, it's taken that long to digest the whole thing for me to write some sort of review for it. He wet the appetite of fans just a couple months prior with the "All Delighted People" EP, which with a running time of over fifty nine minutes is anything but an EP. With "The Age Of Adz" it's a seventy four minute affair. And while I'm not going to go on and on about the length of these projects, bear in mind that it tells me Stevens has a lot of ideas and a lot to say after his lengthy hiatus. Is the patience there to indulge?

The theme on "The Age Of Adz" is much more introspective. He's no longer telling tales for history buffs as he did on past efforts "Come On Feel The Illinoise" and "Michigan". That 50 state project turned out to just be a promotional gimmick, I suppose. Those that might miss those historical tales have to listen to the themes about getting older and overcoming adversity as Stevens did overcoming an illness that plagued him during the writing of this album. There is a lot of thought and care put into the work by Stevens to have the album revolve on this axis, but it's never an overbearing process. There are good moments like the gorgeous melodrama of "Now That I'm Older" and when he continually delivers the line "I'm not fucking around anymore" on "I Want To Be Well". He's no longer singing about "Casmir Pulaski Day", Sufjan is getting older and coming to grips in his own way.

The sound of "The Age Of Adz" has lost the pastoral feel of past albums and integrated more electronics into it. Throughout the albums there are blips and bleeps going on around every corner. I don't feel that it's that off putting or distracting, but In can throw a casual listener off until they get accustomed to it. Stevens is a great conductor and all the intricate little sounds, all the gorgeous orchestration you've come to love is still in its right place. If Stevens gets tired of songwriting, he could easily go into producing film soundtracks. His ear is fantastic for this.

So where my problem lies most with "The Age Of Adz" comes in two parts. One, the songs don't stick. You can put together something that is fantastic and pieced together where it should be, but if you're not going to remember a hook a Wednesday from now, it really turns into something you can admire when it's on and that is pretty much where things will stop. It's not a piece that is going to garner additional listens. Two, it could really use some sort of edit job. And I'm not just picking on the twenty five minute suite "Impossible Soul" that ends the album, I just wish some of these songs would take on a more traditional form. There are plenty of good and bad ideas through "Impossible Soul", from shout along chants to multi-vocoders, but is the excess really needed. Is it necessary?

You can admire Stevens' attitude of moving forward with a bold statement of growing into the computer age on "The Age Of Adz" (I believe that is the intent of the electronics). I'm not sure if it will have a timeless feel several years from now or if there is anything here that will sound terribly outdated in that time. There's a fine line between being novel and novelty. Which side of the pool you decide to jump into is your decision. For me it's like the second track on "The Age Of Adz", its "Too Much".

Grade: B-

JHO Picks:
Too Much
I Walked
Now That I'm Older
I Want To Be Well

  Sufjan Stevens - Too Much by lostmonster 

  Sufjan Stevens - "Now That I'm Older" by Pretty Much Amazing 

  Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz - 03 Age of Adz by anavisan

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New and Noteworthy: Crystal Castles w/Robert Smith, Japandroids, The Tallest Man On Earth

Crystal Castles w/Robert Smith-"Not In Love"
Toronto's experimental electronic band Crystal Castles have asked the godfather of mope rock, Robert Smith of the Cure, to lend his vocals to "Not In Love" for their upcoming EP of the same title due out December 6th. The original song was done by a the band Platinum Blonde in 1984. Crystal Castles, themselves, covered it on their second album that was released earlier this year. And now Smith is along for the ride on the EP. My favorite version is the latest because Smith hasn't sound so convicting and convincing in quite a while (maybe 2001's "Signal To A Noise" was the last time). His voice takes on the perfect melancholia to the icy dance beats laid down in unison with him. Definitely a favorite of the year.
  Crystal Castles "Not In Love" (ftrg. Robert Smith) by

Japandroids-"Heavenward Grand Prix"
You can call it another stop over single while we wait for the follow up to their 2009 "Post Nothing" album. It blisters and screams turn me up to 10 or to a point where you can't here yourself think. All with some strange melody going on in the background. The new EP was released on Tuesday, so pick it if you want some new material by these guys.

The Tallest Man On Earth-"The Dreamer"
"The Dreamer" is a song off the latest EP "Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird" from Swedish folk outfit The Tallest Man On Earth. Really, it's more Kristain Matsson's pseudonym as he plays all the instruments on the album. This is notable for being the first song done with electric guitar (there shouldn't be people booing him like Dylan at Newport or any festival soon though.) And really, it's just a gorgeous song that is just Matsson's voice and that guitar. I can't see why something like this wouldn't receive more exposure. Here's to "The Dreamer" doing just that over the next few months. And don't shy away just because it's labeled as Swedish folk music. Great stuff, whole EP is quite nice as well.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Top Music Videos Of The 90's (10-1)

To the top ten we go...If you are just joining or want to see a complete list of the top videos of the nineties according to station to station, just click on the Top Music Videos Of The 90's link in the countdowns box to the right hand side of the page and it will give you links and the list compiled for this countdown.

#10-Fiona Apple Ciminal
When you have a sultry voice like Fiona Apple, you're going to get an earful of attention. When she sings a song like "Criminal" it is with the conviction of an around the way lady who has seen and lived it all. But she wasn't even twenty one yet when she recorded it. Maybe that's why the video for "Criminal" comes off even naughtier. Looking like it was filmed in a seventies apartment, Apple is the only focal point in the video even though there are other people lying around or occupying the space, you never see their faces which gives the living space an even more sexual feel. To add to the effect, a lot of shots give Apple red-eye to give an old seedy, snapshot look. All while she is pouting about lost innocence. The most lasting shot is near the end when she squeezes the dish washing tube and pink foam slowly floats though the air. It's a powerful video and one of the best songs of the nineties.

#9-Busta Rhymes-Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See
In 1997, Busta Rhymes was just about a household name and as far as videos goes, this goes down as his most memorable. Busta Rhymes close up shots, shots of him walking with an elephant, and the weird body paint on performers including Rhymes in the last half of the video all cap off a kaleidoscope of visual candy. At first it's a definite take on "Coming To America" as Rhymes gets out of bed and has females bathe him and brush his teeth. But the video just gets stranger as it goes along and the hypnotizing beat just helps add to the allure. It especially helps when the choreography is on point. You'd think we would have had more off beat videos from Rhymes after this, but everything he did seemed rehash from here on out. This is the climax of his popularity and serves as one of the greatest hip hop videos of the nineties.

#8 Pearl Jam-Jeremy
If Pearl Jam had made waves with their first two singles, then the video for "Jeremy" is honestly the place where they were catapulted into top of the class. The song itself paints vivid images without a video. But seeing images actually unfold in front of your face brought the song to a whole other level. The main character Jeremy confused and living, but the only one moving, in his own world, is shown best with frozen images of his parents and schoolmates just hyping up the age old lessons of teen isolation and anger. Eddie Vedder acts as the "Morgan Freeman" narrator in the video, telling the story as we see Jeremy try to cope with everyday life. Words flash by such as "problem" or phrases like "he said it didn't matter" to show what quotes were said about him after he does the unthinkable at the end of the video. The powerful image of classmates still frozen with blood on their white shirts sums up the ending of the tale. After hitting such a stark chord with this video, it really isn't that surprising Pearl Jam decided not to shoot videos anymore throughout most of the nineties. They came and "Showed" what they had to and anything else probably wouldn't have topped this, in video form.

#7 Blur-Coffee and TV
Life isn't good in the Coxon household. It appears Graham (lead guitarist from Blur) has run away from home. Who can they rely on to go find him? How about the milk carton named Milk on the kitchen table who acts like a family pet. And so our adventure begins with Milky going out into the big, vast world looking for Graham. Never before has a tale of human behavior been told through the eyes of a milk carton, but here it is. There is kindness from a motorcyclist kind enough to pick him up, gullibility from a flier for a lady who states can make all your dream come true, to environmental where other cartons, cans and disposable items are shown in an unsavory ways. Milky learns a lot on his journey and he ends up finding Graham jamming with the rest of Blur in a basement. Noticing his picture on the carton, Graham goes back home to reunite with his family but not before he drinks from the carton and throws it away. The parting shot of Milky flying out of the garbage can to heaven with wings at the end is touching. He did his job. And in six minutes, we saw the movie Disney has been trying to produce for twenty years now. The end.

#6 Foo Fighters-Big Me
The Foo Fighters could be described as the Duran Duran of the nineties with their hugely successful and popular videos helping to further their success. The first eye catching video was the hilarious spoof on the Mentos commercial that was popular in the nineties. And of course anyone who has seen those commercials can laugh at the comedy behind them with the video "Big Me". Just like in the commercials, when a problem arises, pop the delicious fruit flavored candy, and a brilliant idea will pop in your head. Here, the Mentos are played out as Footos. They help a lady whose car is trapped in a bad parking space, they help Dave Grohl cross an intersection blocked by a limousine, and they help a young boy get on stage at a Foo Fighter concert. Writing it out makes it seem dry, but the video is anything but dry. It's one of the funniest spoofs put down to a short film clip. And now I'm off to find some old Mentos commercials on YouTube, for nostalgia.

#5 Blind Melon-No Rain
Back before "Little Miss Sunshine" was the tale of a young girl in a bee costume who liked to tap dance. Her dance routine induced laughter and odd looks from people she tried to perform for on the streets. Until one day our main character opened a gate to her euphoria: a giant field of people in dancing bee costumes. The dancing bee girl is perhaps the biggest icon of 90's music videos. How many people back in 1993 asked the question "have you seen the video with the dancing bee girl?" Just about everyone identified the song with the video. Deep down it's a piece about a girl who is having troubles fitting in with what everyone finds to be odd behavior. But it shows that every pea has its pod in a very happy ending. It's debatable if Blind Melon would have had such a big hit with "No Rain" if not for the video (the song itself is great), but in a decade of a lot of inner rage, the video for "No Rain" was the rainbow everyone was waiting for, and not ashamed to love.
Blind Melon - No Rain
Uploaded by hushhush112. - Explore more music videos.

# 4 The Beastie Boys-Sabotage
Perhaps the greatest seventies crime show never to hit the air was "Sabotage" It's extra long opening scene was fantastic. It combined the best of shows like "Starsky and Hutch" and "Hawaii Five-O" all rolled into one. What's great about the video for "Sabotage" is just about everything. The fictional characters names (Alasondro Allege as the Chief, Fred Kelly as Bunny), the different angles the camera shoots everything to make it appear like those old seventies crime shows, and watching the Beastie Boys tackle each other as cops and villains. As far as I could ever tell, besides the shot of DJ Hurricane as "Bunny", all the fight and chase scenes involve just the three Beastie Boys. It matched the song perfectly and was a huge hit thanks in part to this ridiculous video. It's the place where the guys let all their goofy character portraying unfold for our enjoyment.

#3 The Verve-Bittersweet Symphony
After seeing this video several times, there was an evening out with friends in Morgantown where this video came to fruition for me. Being inpatient and leaving a certain bar, I left by myself and proceeded to walk the streets of Morgantown with this song and Richard Ashcroft's monumental walk going through my head. I may not have knocked any girls over or jumped on the hoods of any cars, but the feeling of empowerment, that nothing could stand in my way of getting somewhere raced through my veins. Of course, when I sobered enough, I found myself lost and had to call for help. Ashcroft may come off as a prick running into people, peering in their cars, walking through people who are having conversations...but nothing's gonna break his stride. Part of the fascination of the video is the two way shooting...from behind to show what sidewalk traffic is coming up and from the front to show what people's reactions are once he has bulldozed his way through. It may not be Abbey Road, but what if people went to Hoxton Street in North London to walk down the same street Ashcroft did in the late nineties. Wouldn't it be cool to take that same journey for four and a half minutes.
The Verve - BitterSweet Symphony
Uploaded by Eldarc88. - See the latest featured music videos.

#2 Bjork-It's Oh So Quiet
Well, I want to make sure I include all videos with dancing mailboxes in the countdown. Thank goodness I remembered Bjork dancing with one back in 1995 in the sensational video for "It's Oh So Quiet." First off, it's an homage to old films starring the likes of Gene Kelly. It's hard not to be a sucker for a film that doesn't include choreographed dance routines by people who you assume are just going about everyday business. Until the dance number comes along, then everyone is dancing, and here we've got that mailbox I was talking about and roman pillars. And even more important, this all works with the song wonderfully. The slower moments of the song move along in slow motion until it gets to its raucous chorus. And the presence of Bjork, who is always adorable one way or another in her videos, just adds to the success. The shot where she runs up a wall and flips backwards and the shot at the end where she is skylifted above the street below always make me smile (and of course, the dancing mailbox). So many great Bjork videos, this ranks so high because it's so memorable and enjoyable.


Myspace Video
#1 Weezer-Buddy Holly
Spike Jonze, by my count, is responsible for three of the top five videos and a handful of others in the entire countdown. He was like the Spielberg of short music videos in the nineties. His crowning achievement, in my opinion at least, is his direction in the video for Weezer's "Buddy Holly". The whole incorporating footage from "Happy Days" with current shots of the band performing in Arnold's Drive-In diner was genius. All you had to do was have a limited knowledge of the show and you got instant gratification from the video. Of course the crowning moment was having the Fonz do his memorable dance in sync with the song at the end of the video. And Weezer benefited as well as it helped cement them as an innovative band visually and musically. If pushed, I'll always go with "Buddy Holly" as the top video of the nineties on most days. The video itself brings back happy memories and happy days. In the end, memories are what this countdown is truly based on.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Top Music Videos Of The 90's (20-11)

#20 Portishead-Only You
Perhaps trip-hop's finest video, Portishead's video for "Only You" is as creepy as the bass line and samples that drives the song (for that matter, a lot of Portishead's songs). It's difficult to decipher what's more creepy. Lead singer Beth Gibbons and a young boy who look trapped in a dark alley way floating around but obviously moving like they are stuck in a ten foot deep pool. Or the creepy guys from the band staring at them from dimly lit rooms in buildings surrounding the alley. This ranks high for watching the kid do a magic trick that is synchronized with the beat of the song and, well, just because watching people act like their underwater above ground is fascinating. And "Only You" is...fascinating.

#19 Beck-Loser
As low as a low budget video can go, Beck's breakthrough single and video for "Loser" is a mish-mash of odd scenes. I could never figure out if this was just some hipster or some poor, white trash soul. Because the video kind of combines those two elements together. If it's important for anything, it's for brief glimpses of Beck on stage with a leaf blower and showing off early break dance moves. Other memorable scenes are two girls doing a cheer in a graveyard, the grim reaper cleaning a windshield with what appears to be blood, and that crazy coffin. How could you not think of that coffin not moving around on it's own in this video (and of course, the homeless man who appears walking out of it with a guitar in one portion of the video). I think Beck set new standards for less is more here as well as just showing you didn't have to be a prototypical rock star to get a video on MTV in 1993. You could dress like Elvis and have a coffin moving around a grocery store parking lot to get exposure as well. It brought slacker to a whole new level.

#18 Eminem-My Name Is
You know the first time you saw Marshall Mathers on the MTV back in 1999 that your first thoughts were probably, "Who is this joker? and "I really believe this is going to be a one hit wonder." But then as weeks went by, you start getting the "My Name Is" with scratching and all stuck in your head. And you went to watch the video again because, well, Eminem seemed like a bit of a train wreck. And his video where he impersonates people on a TV show includes his takes on Johnny Carson, Bill Clinton, Marilyn Manson, and a couple of self portraits. Until watching this again, I forgot basketball legend George Muresan played a ventriloquist to a Eminem dummy. Of course we delved deeper into the psyche of Eminem in the next decade, but without this colorful video, the world could not have had a better introduction.

#17 U2-Numb

Throwing off some fans of "Achtung Baby" and traditional U2, the band's first single from "Zooropa" featured the Edge taking turns on vocals and singing in a very monotone voice. And the video compliments the strange, stiff feelings in the song. I feel very bad for the Edge here: He has feet stuck in his face, a string wrapped around his neck and those damn fans taking their picture with him at the end of the video (although the belly dancer was a nice addition). The static shot video has people walking around behind him and Bono, Clayton and Mullen coming up into frame at certain parts of the video. After lengthy thought, this is my favorite and most memorable video from U2 in the decade, and I still enjoy "Zooropa" at times, and not for nostalgic reasons. Just for the fact they tortured the Edge in this video.

#16 Jane's Addiction-Been Caught Stealing
This is is the visual guide for people suffering kleptomania who want to have a fun time with their disorder. First, find a store where there are other kleptomaniacs. If you want, go dressed as pregnant woman or just yourself. Second, you may want to take along a stripper who can pole dance in the produce section, or a kid sister who can act like a cheerleader with lettuce pom-poms. Third, make sure they've got aisle dancing, where you can show your moves going down the canned good aisles, like the older couple in this video who have some fantastic moves. Lastly, if you're a member of Jane's Addiction..I'm talking to you Dave Navarro, you may want to reconsider stealing that giant broom. It seems like you may get caught with that walking out of the store. This has been your guide to having fun with kleptomania. Enjoy the video.
Jane's Addiction - Been Caught Stealing
Uploaded by WBRNewMedia. - Watch more music videos, in HD!

#15 Fatboy Slim-Praise You
If fictional dance troupes storming the outside of a theater is your kind of thing, than you were probably thrilled when you first saw the video for "Praise You". Even more of a bonus, it starred Spike Jonze, the man responsible for a third of the videos in this countdown, as the instructor of a mediocre talent of dancers who show their choreographed moves. Part of the fun of this video is watching the onlookers who obviously don't know what is going on in front of them and the guy who turns off the CD player halfway (Booo!!!) in which Jonze gives him a big hug and cues the song back up. Nothing will stop this posse! I've always hoped to run into something this impromptu, but sadly I've been let down. If you were here the night this was shot, consider yourself a lucky individual...or at least a stunned one.

#14 Foo Fighters-Everlong
It's not just another funny Foo Fighters video even though it has some comic elements in it (ie. the big hand). "Everlong" succeeds as a wildly smart and dark video as well. Think of all the surreal images used. From the David Grohl and Taylor Hawkins (who dresses in drag as Grohl's wife) dream sequences lying in bed, to the legs that turn into blocks of woods, to the giant rotary phone in a back alley, to the band breaking out of their costumes to rock it at the end of the video (Hawkins bed morphing into the drum set is probably one of my favorite video moments of the nineties). There's a plot here in a sort of Nightmare On Elm Street type of way, except Freddy is Pat Smear and Nate Mendel as the villains wreaking havoc in Grohl and Hawkins dreams. It's a video you could sit around with friends and ask what their interpretation of Grohl's giant hand that takes down his enemies is. Is he the incredible hulk and if so, a hand turning gigantic is a hell of a good power to have. Always a fun watch, even thirteen years later.

#13 Pavement-Cut Your Hair
I can never decide which band member's escapade in the barber chair is my favorite. It's all so ridiculous and makes me laugh out loud anytime I see it. Ibold's sneezing cat incident, Kannberg's gorilla outfit, Nastanovich drinking barber's cleaning solution. All hilarious. A tie goes between Malkmus being treated like a king with a martini and crown and the off the wall close up shot of a tear rolling down his face and the absolute absurd West who, when the barber turns away, has a giant lizard mask over his head. I also remember the oddness of each band member going back to the waiting bench with different clothes on. This video brings back a lot of memories about slacking in college. "Cut Your Hair" is colorful and original, just like Pavement.

#12 Dinosaur Jr.-Feel The Pain
Dinosaur Jr. helped make golfers' dreams a reality by playing golf in the city and driving a golf cart around Manhattan. By my count, J Mascis shot a five in this video and his fourth shot out of a water hazard in a fountain was fantastic. He should be proud if it was a Par 5. Other highlights include his shot off a poor guy's glasses and Mascis has one of the best caddies in the world in bassist Mike Johnson. The two fend off some businessmen in the park who attempt to pick up their ball and distract the game. This is the only time it's probably allowed to knock people out with your four iron. It could be assault in other circumstances. A very memorable video which has inspired a lot of people to go play golf illegally in the city.

#11 Radiohead-Just
"Do you want to know why I'm lying here?" asks the man on the sidewalk. The guy who tripped over him while he was lying on the sidewalk is pretty adamant to know the answer. "Tell Us!" Look, I don't know what the guy answered and I'm still not sure how the guy walking didn't see the gentlemen lying on the sidewalk in the first place. But whatever sidewalk guy said, it creeps me out. Because now everybody is lying on that sidewalk and there are gonna be more people tripping over them. This is all going on while the band Radiohead is playing in an apartment above and Thom Yorke looks like a distant cousin of Jerry Lewis and they look genuinely as shocked as I am to see all those people just lying on the ground beneath them. The song flat out stings. The video is flat out spectacular. If anything, I'm sorry it just missed the top ten. It doesn't feel "just", I know.

Radiohead - Just
Uploaded by steveo_russianspy. - Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.

Back To Videos 30-21

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Top Music Videos Of The 90's (30-21)

#30 Green Day-Redundant
There is something that is just great about Green Day's video for "Redundant". First off we have a stationary shot. After the band members take there places we watch in the background and foreground people doing the same thing over and over. It could be hanging up a painting, undressing, a couple making out on the couch. It's all tough to take in. One of the focal points is a lady who walks out of the kitchen to pick up the paper on the floor. The only thing that breaks anyone's redundant stride is when Armstrong takes the newspaper and runs off at the end of the video which leaves the lady screaming. It's great stuff when you have to go back and watch a video a few times to pick up on things and that's what Green Day accomplished here. My favorite Green Day video of the 90's.

#29 UNKLE-Rabbit In Your Headlights
We can't forget the guy in the parka in the tunnel if we're doing any sort of video countdown. Thom Yorke does guest vocals on UNKLE's "Rabbit In Your Headlights" and it is the perfect soundtrack. Some people may like to watch a guy who is uttering gibberish walking down a busy tunnel and is continuously getting hit and knocked over by cars who don't stop to see if he's alright. To me it's sad. And when he takes the parka off to reveal scars on his body, it's even sadder. This is this guy's walk through life...and he keeps getting knocked down. But his moment of serenity is when he stops, raises his arms, and a car that hits him self implodes as he stands strong. It's the money shot and the sweet justice you were hoping for throughout the video. And I'm about to go put my parka on...

#28 Nine Inch Nails-We're In This Together
Nine Inch Nails had some great videos from the "Downward Spiral" with "Closer and "March Of The Pigs", but this video stands as my favorite and most memorable. Probably because it is the ultimate human rat race. Everyone is dressed the same and everyone is in a hurry to get somewhere we'll probably never know exactly, but that's beyond the point. The thrill is watching hundreds to thousands of people fill a subway station, run across a rail yard and pack into a train, and then run across a desert knocking each other down to get to that somewhere. When Trent Reznor goes down in a barrage of people sprinting, we think it's all over, but he awakes to find clothes scattered across the desert and not another soul in sight. Reznor's chorus, for a change, is very hopeful in "We're In This Together" and on an optimistic day, you can have a positive vibe of what the meaning of this video's ending is.

#27 Supergrass-Late In The Day
This may seem kind of high in video countdowns but let me ask you "How many love/break up song videos were done on pogo sticks in the 90's?" This one. And not only is it pogo stick jumping delcicious, the guys from Supergrass are actually quite good at working a pogo stick (the only shot in question is where they pogo over a parked car.) Those mad skills have them working their skills in the rain, in a public bandstand in unison, and some mad moves by drummer Danny Goffey in the guitar solo. It's too bad this pogo adventure wasn't a huge hit in the states but it did get these guys a video nomination in Britain.

Supergrass - Late In The Day
Uploaded by EMI_Music. - Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.

#26 Lauryn Hill-Everything Is Everything
The overall mood is mysteriously great and a bit religious in Lauryn Hill's video for "Everything Is Everything". It's mysterious in the way Manhattan has been turned into a giant turntable and the city streets have become the vinyl as a needle makes its way through the streets as the song goes on. The religious overtone is the hand that comes down to scratch the vinyl could be compared with god's hand shaking things up or helping people who are in danger (like the scene of a beating going on that is diverted by the hand scratching the pavement to break up the fight). It's also part sci-fi watching the shadow of the needle's arm in the sky going across the city's landscape with people constantly looking up. An all around great video, still surprised this was really the last we've heard from Hill after all these years.

#25 R.E.M.-Everybody Hurts
If you're ever stuck in traffic and you see the guys for R.E.M. appear sitting on the hoods of cars or walking the highway, the best thing to do is just get out of the car and walk. A gripping tale of a traffic jam full of mourners and people with everyday problems. There is something so liberating that words can't describe the feeling when they get out of their cars...and just walk. Throughout the video, the thoughts of the characters in the cars are put in simple text at the bottom of the screen (if I was one of the people in a car my thought would probably read "I could really go for a taco right now.") The best is the extra footage at the end with a reporter reporting the strange circumstance on the highway below. It had to be some sort of inspiration for a Shamalyn movie along the way.

R.E.M. - Everybody Hurts
Uploaded by WBRNewMedia. - Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.

#24 The Prodigy-Smack My Bitch Up

The most hedonistic video of the decade belongs to the Prodigy for "Smack My Bitch Up". The video is shot in a first person perspective and follows around a person on a night of debauchery. The evening includes several shots of whiskey, a couple lines of coke, a heroin fix in a bathroom stall, vandalism at a club, a lot of inappropriate touching of females, the occasional vomiting, a strip club, a stripper going home and getting their ya ya's on, someone may have been hit by a car at some point, and an order of nachos. It is truly mind bending why MTV wouldn't show this. HA! In 1997, there was no internet, you had to stay up late, late to see the new video for Prodigy. And it was worth it. The twist in the end that our first person is a female may be a bit too much to believe, but if that's the case, all I could ever say was wow. That's pretty hardcore.

You can jump on over to Daily Motion to watch this one as I'm not going to embed it. And YouTube won't let you even check it out so here's Daily Motion's link: Prodigy-Smack My Bitch Up

#23 Red Hot Chili Peppers-Give It Away 
At first I was trying to figure why I put the Chili Peppers in the video countdown, but then after sitting and really watching "Give It Away" again, I had to shoot it way up the countdown. The reason it sticks in your head is that it is so visually pleasing. It gives you the memory that there is something really technically proficient about this video, but there really isn't. The band is dressed in acrylic paint, there is a lot of reverse cinematography that is used perfectly, a lot of split screen with a soft border to make you feel both sides of the screen are melting together, and some great zoom in and out motions to go with the beat of the song. All basic. But put together, truly remarkable. It helped these guys into multi-platinum territory for the rest of their careers.

Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Give it Away
Uploaded by hamster1992. - Classic TV and last night's shows, online.

#22-Snoop Dogg-Gin and Juice
It may be because Snoop is sporting a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey with Gin and Juice 94 on it or because I like to have my mind on my money. Either way, it's probably one of my favorite west coast rap videos of the decade. Leave it to Snoop to throw a great looking house party after his parents leave (It's like Home Alone...and Snoop is Macaulay Culkin, sort of). The Dixie cups looking for a little Gin and Juice at the drive in and the Dr. Dre cameo to save the day are highlights. In the end the parents come home and chase everyone out of the house party...but we don't know for sure if they caught the d-o-double-g with the young ladies we last saw him go into the bedroom with. A fun party video. Snoop was on point here.

#21 Lo Fidelity Allstars w/Pigeonhead-Battle Flag
If we learned anything from the video for "Battle Flag", it's if you have a problem that needs to be taken care the Lo Fidelity Allstars who are offering great rates right now on kidnapping and extortion. A tale of a wealthy businessman who has skeletons in his closet and is too arrogant to care for his own family and has a kinky affair with a prostitute may seem a bit of a tired tale. But put it to the soundtrack of a song like "Battle Flag" and raise the sinister level to a ten. We can only assume in the end as we see him get driven off by the band into a tunnel that his hours or minutes are numbered (especially with the images of the car burning right beforehand). I guess we can possibly add murder to the Allstars repertoire as well. One of the greatest one hit wonder songs of the nineties, with a great video to compliment it.

Back to Videos 40-31