Mash-up masterpieces

21 07 2013

My friend put together a pretty slick mash-up, So Whatcha Want (Beastie Boys) and Always On the Run (Lenny Kravitz.)  That got me interested — again — in mash-ups.  Here are some cool ones.  Some are almost great songs in their own right.  Some make you giggle.  But they’re all cool in their own way.

I can’t forget Dread Zeppelin.  They were probably the pioneer mash-up band



Check Your Head and the Summer of ’92

19 08 2012


We heard the murmurs in the music media: Beastie Boys are coming out with a new album and they’re playing their own instruments. “What instruments?” we asked with a giant collective head scratch. I distinctly remember thinking, “Nice gimmick but this is gonna suck. They’re gonna embarrass themselves.” Man was I wrong.

Check Your Head came out in April. By that time my friends and I knew the Beasties were coming to our school, Michigan State, for our Spring Concert in May. I was lucky enough to be part of the group to bring them to MSU, but I personally wasn’t in the part of the organization that put together the show. Knowing I’d be at the show, I knew I had to first get the CD and give these new Beasties a chance. I loved the disk the first time I spun it. 20 years later, despite practically wearing the clear coating off the disk, it’s my favorite Beasties album.

The Spring Concert was great. Besides the Beasties I only remember being amazed by the energy of Firehose and being annoyed by the piss-poor, half-assed performance of Eek-a-Mouse. luckily for my ears he stormed off the stage in a snit over the “shit” microphone, which he slammed on the stage. More than the concert was the summer that followed. What Sgt. Pepper was to the so-called “Summer of Love” Check Your Head was to my friends. We disbursed across the State of Michigan in June, and Check Your Head went with us to our parties, bonfires and camping trips. We cranked it in our cars and had it played in the bars. 20 years, 19 Summers later, Check Your Head is no longer the soundtrack to the great times we have now. But it will forever be the soundtrack to some of the best times of our waning youth.

The inimitable Biz Markie

28 05 2012

We heard Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend” on the radio today for the first time in dang near 20 years.   That made me think of my favorite Biz Markie track.  He was originally backed by Beastie Boys, but this version of “Benny and the Jets” is with his — or somebody’s — band.  I love it.

Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch aka MCA dead at 47

4 05 2012

I don’t have the time at the moment to discuss this sad situation, but I did want to share the news that Adam Yauch has died.

Beastie Boys have always been favorites of mine — maybe except for the last couple-three albums. Brilliant, fun, funny, talented guys, and Yauch was a great entertainer. He really helped make the Beasties what they were. I hope he is at peace.

(Finally) a solid Rock & Roll Hall of Fame class

7 12 2011

I’ve been grumbling for the last few years about who has and hasn’t been inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  The list of nominees for 2012 was very promising, at least compared to past classes.  The list of those that got the nod is solid!

  • The Small Faces/The Faces (Finally!)
  • Guns N’ Roses
  • Donovan
  • Beastie Boys
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Laura Nyro

The band that I’m most pleased to see inducted is (are) actually two groups put in as one inductee, the Small Faces/The Faces.  Rod Stewart has been in the HOF for awhile but, in my opinion, he’d be nothing without the work of both The Small Faces, and the band that became something of his backing group, The Faces.  He’d probably be tending bar somewhere without those guys.  They’re massively influential bands and they’re actually rock n’ rollers!

In the late 80’s, early 90’s, Guns N’ Roses was probably the preeminent hard rock band.  Although they haven’t made music worth crap in 20 years, in their heyday, they were mighty.

I don’t own a single Chili Peppers album, but I love their rock-funk style.  Flea is one of the coolest bassists to come along in the last 40 years.

While I’m definitely critical of the RRHOF inducting hip-hop and rap artists, I back the induction of Beastie Boys.  They brought a lot of rock and roll into the music.  Check Your Head is still one of my favorite albums of my youth, and it rocked.  The Beasties crossed enough genres to, in my opinion, be considered  a rock group (in a loose sense.)

Donovan’s kind of cool for his unique blend of folk and psychedelic.  I dig his more rocky or poppy songs like “Sunshine Superman” and “Season of the Witch.”

I’ve never been much of a Laura Nyro fan, but I have no complaints about her induction.

There is little interest for me in the “Early Influences” and “Sidemen” categories.  I would say, though, that Glyn Johns is well deserving of his induction.  That guy has had his hands on the controls for many of the greatest rock records ever made.  Thumbs up, Glyn!

Another Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nomination cluster-blank (but with some good news.)

27 09 2011

This year’s nominees are:

  • The Cure
  • Beastie Boys
  • Donovan
  • Eric B. & Rakim
  • Guns N’ Roses
  • Heart
  • Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
  • Freddie King
  • Laura Nyro
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Rufus with Chaka Khan
  • The Faces/Small Faces! (Finally!)
  • The Spinners
  • Donna Summer
  • War

Every year, the RRHOF continues to highlight what a joke it is.  The museum is fine.  But the nominating committee is made up of a bunch of chowderheads.

For example, once again the committee passed over Rush in favor of the likes (of good but hardly great) Joan Jett or Heart.  I’m no Rush fan, but they’re one of the most influential, powerful rock bands of the last forty years.  Lee, Lifeson and Peart are some of the best musicians in rock history.

Rufus & Chaka Khan? Really?

It’s so ridiculous that rock bands are being passed up for entry by hip-hop groups like Beastie Boys and Eric B. & Rakim.  I love the Beasties, but let’s put rock and rollers in the RRHOF first before we start filling it with rap and hip hop.

I will credit the nominating committee for putting rockers like G N’ R and one of my favorites, The Faces, on the list.  The Faces should’ve been in the RRHOF a decade ago.  Donovan’s also long overdue for induction.

This about sums it up for me:

For the record, yes, it is a crime against humanity—resolvable only by a war-crimes tribunal—that none of the following have ever been nominated: T. Rex, the Smiths, Yes, Jethro Tull, Devo, Todd Rundgren, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Roxy Music, Willie Nelson, Warren Zevon, the Replacements, ELO, Chubby Checker, Hall and Oates, Los Lobos, Black Flag, X, the B-52s, Dick Dale, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Nick Drake, Captain Beefheart, Sonic Youth…

I wouldn’t put all those performers in the RRHOF if I were a one-man nominating committee — no Chubby Checker, no Jethro Tull, no Captain Beefheart — but many of them are better the crop of so-called rockers that have been inducted in the last 10 years or so.

The 2011 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees are…(drumroll)…

28 09 2010

  • Alice Cooper
  • Beastie Boys
  • Bon Jovi
  • Chic
  • Neil Diamond
  • Donovan
  • Dr. John
  • J. Geils Band
  • LL Cool J
  • Darlene Love
  • Laura Nyro
  • Donna Summer
  • Joe Tex
  • Tom Waits
  • Chuck Willis

Every year I say this and I feel compelled to repeat it.  This year’s list of nominees include people that have no business being in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame before rock acts like T. Rex and The Faces.  Rod Stewart is in solo, but the band that made him great, a massively influential group, waits and waits and waits.  T. Rex, admittedly, lacked some substance, but they were a very influential rock band, the kings of the Glam movement.  Bands like Oasis made fortunes pinching some of Bolan’s work.

I’m not a Rush fan personally, but it’s ludicrous to think that Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Chic (Chic???), Bon Jovi and Dr. John could make their way into the RRHOF before Rush.