Both have been my theme song this week.
Today’s the kind of day where I just want to throw on my yummy sushi pajamas and curl up in bed with a big glass of YouTube. Replace my bed with an awkwardly low chair, and the pajamas with business casual gear, and you have the reality of my current situation. You know, you can’t always get what you want.
That said. I still have my big glass o’ YouTube, and now you can too. Also, bonus points if you caught the Buffy reference above.
First up we have Foo Fighters performing My Hero at last year’s Lollapalooza. The band posted the clip on their FBook this morning as it’s the year anniversary of what turned out to be quite the memorable performance. Mother nature was def in the mood for rock and roll.
Next up is Green Day’s newest single from a surprise show they did in Austin earlier this year. I love seeing the band out of their typical over the top stage costumes and just kicking it low key in tee shirts and jeans. Makes it easier to focus on the tunes. And let me tell ya, this one’s a goodie.
I’m leaving you with No Doubt’s performance at the Kennedy Center Honors tribute to Paul McCartney. The band has said this 2010 performance was one of the highlights of their careers, and I love seeing Sir Paul sing along to their rendition of Hello Goodbye and Penny Lane. Also not minding the Dave Grohl cameo at the end. Fun times!!
The album up for review this week is another one celebrating its 25th year being listened to by the world and its 3rd month being listened to by me. It’s the album that Billie Joe Armstrong claimed to be the “best debut album in the history of rock and roll” in his speech at this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Ceremony. It’s sold over 18 million copies. It makes even the squarest of squares wanna do a keg stand on a balance beam over a pit of snakes. It’s Appetite for Destruction by Guns N’ Roses.
As a first time listener of Appetite for Destruction, it’d be really easy to think that it is totally cheeseball. With the epic guitar solos, Axl’s insane singing, all the girls/booze/party talk, and songs like “Night Train,” I can’t help but conjure up images of a modern day Spinal Tap. Thing is, Appetite came first. It only seems like a joke because I’ve been listening to 25 years worth of people trying to copy what they did. Appetite for Destruction is a genius collection of groundbreaking rock and roll, and without this album, a lot of bands simply wouldn’t exist.
In their celebration of the album, Stereogum discussed how they can’t imagine a world without the song “Paradise City” (track six on AFD), and I’m total proof of that. Dookie was my first cassette, and I listened to all subsequent rock that came out after it, however I never took the time to dive into the classics. Despite this, I still know and have known every word and every riff to this famous song. And now, after my buddy Josh was nice enough to burn me a copy of Appetite, I can sing you through a good chunk of the album.
On my first couple spins of this CD I couldn’t pick out which songs were my favorites, as each one built so well upon the masterpiece that preceded. All members of the band are at the top of their game and Slash steers the ship from stage left as the holy grail of guitar players. I turn into a giggly school girl during “Welcome to the Jungle,” I die for the catchiness of “Mr. Brownstone,” and just straight up melt for everything that “Sweet Child O’ Mine” has got going on. That for me is the song that makes this album.
It starts out with one of the most classic guitar riffs of all time and launches into a soulful conglomeration of tender lyrics, loud instrumentation, and a damn near perfect sense of pacing. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” takes breaks when it needs to, giving each part of the song the weight and breathing room that it deserves. Slash’s sections aren’t just six-string solos. His guitar sings just as much as Axl, driving you much further than if the song depended on words alone. It’s 4 minutes and 33 seconds where no matter what, you’re gonna get lost in the world. Just try and resist it. Don’t believe me? Think back to any karaoke experience where “Sweet Child…” came on. I rest my case.
I think the karaoke test would stand true over most of the songs on Appetite for Destruction, and that’s part of the reason I give this album an A++. It’d be really easy to just get caught up in the nostalgia and hoopla that has surrounded this album since it’s 1987 release, but it all exists for a reason. Axl may have strayed off path, but AFD remains on point, even after all these years.
If you liked this, check out my review of the Replacements’ “Pleased to Meet Me.”
Yesterday was a big day in the land of tunes. We got a new Green Day single, a single/video double whammy from No Doubt, and some new video eye candy from Jack White. Check it all out below as I try and peel myself off the ceiling.
No Doubt – Settle Down
Green Day – Oh Love
Jack White – Freedom at 21*
*This was freaking directed by Hype Williams!!
In this new feature on Little Conqueror I’m going to start reviewing albums that are old to the world, but new to me. “Pleased to Meet Me” by The Replacements is celebrating its 25th birthday this year, making it a perfect contender for my inaugural voyage back from the future.
As I get deeper and deeper into my music hole, more and more bands come to light that I “just have to listen to!” The Replacements were a name that came along early. It seemed everyone I read up on drooled over them as a kid or young adult. Bob Mould, the brains behind Husker Du and Sugar, must have name checked the Minneapolis rockers about 40 million times in his bio “See a Little Light” and Billie Joe Armstrong cites a mutual love for The Replacements as one of the reasons he initially started dating his future wife. That’s really all it took for me.
I’m on the constant lookout for places that sell used CD’s and Academy Records in Chelsea is my New York main squeeze. The only Replacements CD they had was “Pleased to Meet Me,” so I scooped it up not knowing that it was a good one to start with.
As I’ve since learned on Wikipedia, the band was sporting a new line up with this release. It was their 2nd effort after going mainstream and some band mates didn’t make the cut. Down a guitarist, The Replacements motored on as a trio and created what seems to be a bit of a sonic departure from what I gather is their standard gritty, punk sound.
There’s no inclination of this on the album’s first track I.O.U., but by the time you get to the jazzy (and sort of out of place) Nightclub Jitters, something’s clearly up. While on the “Pleased to Meet Me” bus, I feel like The Replacements are saying, “Here are the rock and roll jams that will make you want to jump around, but look what we can ALSO do.” For instance, Saxophone plays a part in this album… And less in the vein of ska and reggae but more in a channeling of Bill Clinton on Arsenio Hall. So dare I say, it’s not cool? Also not cool are the brief emo moments that sneak in on songs like Never Mind and Skyway. Some people might dig that, but it’s just not my thing.
The songs that keep me listening again and again are Alex Chilton (an ode to someone who was apparently a heartthrob, but goes unknown to me), Red Red Wine (not the one you think), and of course Can’t Hardly Wait– the titular song to what will always be one of my fav films. Yeah I called it a film. It’s probably giving it too much credit, but whatever. I also really dig The Ledge and think it seems to house all the things the band was trying to do on this album in one place.
After listening to “Pleased to Meet Me” I’m really excited to dive into The Replacements’ major label debut, “Tim.” And then even more amped to get into the non-label works. I feel like that’s where they’re hiding the really good stuff. And in doing so, I’m hoping to not only be inspired musically, but to find my Billie Joe Armstrong. I can’t hardly wait.
Finishing a good book is one of those things that makes you both happy and sad at the same time. It’s kind of like an encore at a kick ass concert. You’re stoked to get a little bit more, but it signals the end of a great experience. Similarly, reading “Talking to Girls About Duran Duran” by Rob Sheffield has been and for a couple more pages still will be a great experience.
In the book, Sheffield catalogues his life through music and in each chapter expounds upon a single song specific to that time. “Talking to Girls…” has made me laugh out loud in public, mostly around strangers and cry, also in public around strangers, and I am very much not looking forward to it ending. Although, the public humiliation is something I’m okay with letting go.
Please read this book. Not only will it make you nostalgic, but it’s a great read while at the same time being educational. I learned “Cassingle” is the name of some of the things I owned growing up. So that’s cool. And so is Rob Sheffield. And so is “Talking to Girls About Duran Duran.”
One of the songs Sheffield covers is “Crazy for You” by Madonna. This song triggers a series of memories for me also. Here’s my humble attempt to write something similar to what you’d find in “Talking to Girls…” If you don’t like it, we can treat it like most things that occurred in the early 90’s– like it never happened.
* * *
MADONNA “CRAZY FOR YOU”
It was the early nineties. I’m unsure of the year. I’m unsure of the year because at that point my family had moved four times and I hadn’t yet reached the age of ten. All I know for sure is that we lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I feel like it must have been early into our tenure there because the only furniture in what would eventually be my dad’s office was a desk, a dog crate, and our computer. The computer is considered furniture because the internet was in its early stages and all the computer could really do was help you play solitare and type things. The printer paper still had the holes on the side you had to rip off. I’m surprised we even had a computer at all.
I like to lie to people and say that my first CD was Green Day’s “Dookie.” And that’s not true for a couple reasons. One, because it was a cassette. And two, I owned an actual Compact Disc before that. I justify my lie because “Dookie” was the first album I ever acquired by choice. I forced my mom to drive me to Wal Mart AND pay for it, and I remember her waking me up the next day by saying “Good morning my little punk rocker,” as she gently rubbed my shoulder.
In reality, my first CD was “The Immaculate Collection” by Madonna and that’s the honest to g-o-d truth. My grandmother was the coolest person to ever walk this Earth, which I know is a bold statement considering Dave Grohl exists. However she made even my favorite rock star look like a potential character in Revenge of the Nerds. Grandma worked for the JCC Thrift Store in West Palm Beach, Florida, and as a senior ranking senior citizen in the store’s staff, she had first pick at all the donated goods that came in. She got Tommy Hilfiger polos, fake Chanel purses, and a gold Cadillac that my family nicknamed the “pimp-mobile.” She also for some reason got me this CD, and I wasn’t sure what to do with it when it came in the mail.
Luckily, my dad had the wherewithal to install a CD Rom drive into our furniture like computer. CD’s were a new invention and while we could play cassettes pretty much anywhere, the computer was the only place that could reveal the contents of those shiny silver disks. I’m not even sure I knew Madonna existed before getting her album, but if you install a CD Rom drive, CD’s will come, so upon opening my grandma’s package, I marched its contents straight up the stairs and didn’t stop marching until pushing play. What can I say, I was a kid who liked to march.
To this day, I could most likely sing “The Immaculate Collection” to you start to finish while performing all the dances younger than ten year old me choreographed in my father’s soon to be office. If I didn’t know who Madonna was pre-CD, I definitely did after. I drew moles on my face, wore outfits involving poodle skirts and leotards, and learned how to vogue. But more clearly than anything, I remember the first time I really heard the song “Crazy for You.”
At first, “Crazy for You” was the weird slow song I always wanted to skip in order to get back to the fun pop dance times. My older sister, Ilana, however was blessed with more patience than I’ll ever have, and cemented the fact that I’d never again skip over that song. She joined me one day at the CD Rom drive and pointed out that when a way-more experienced Madonna sings “two by two their bodies become one,” she might be talking about people having sex, or as my friends and I called it, “making cotton candy.”
After this discovery, Ilana and I listened to “Crazy for You” on repeat for a good couple of hours. We giggled every time she sang the scandalous lyrics, and knowing the true meaning made me feel like a real grownup. A real grownup who referred to sex as cotton candy and wore poodle skirts recreationally.
Eventually, my dad’s office became an actual office and my parents bought me a little stereo for my room. I made full use out of its ability to play CDs and slowly expanded my collection. And while I might not be sure of the exact time all this happened, I am sure that listening in my bedroom never measured up to listening on the computer. And for the record, even though I’m kind of an adult now, I still giggle every time I hear “Crazy for You.”
A couple days ago, I wrote about Green Days forthcoming albums. Just yesterday they posted a teaser trailer and official artwork for Uno! Dos! Tre!. September 25th! Check it out!
And then as I dug deeper into the internets, something really crazy happened that doesn’t happen often. I found a Green Day video I’ve never seen before. If you remember, one of the pivotal moments in the band’s career was their appearance at the revamped Woodstock festival in 1994. The concert was a MESS and Green Day’s set got REALLY dirty when the audience starting pelting them with clumps of mud. In true GD fashion though, they fought back. Billie Joe ditched his guitar and starting returning the mud back to the crowd. With a few choice words of course. I always knew this was a thing that happened, but it was cool to watch how it all played out. See if you agree.
EDITORIAL NOTE: I’m pretty stoked to be able to post two videos on the same band that were taken 18 years apart. It makes me feel lovely and only a little bit old.
It’s weird going through upcoming album fever as a semi-grownup for bands that I was (and let’s be honest still am) obsessed with as a youngster. Here’s a run through of the things I (and hopefully you) will be listening to as this year carries on.
FIONA APPLE – THE IDLER WHEEL…
The full title of this album has as many words as times I said the f-bomb about not getting to see Fiona live in concert earlier this year. 23 if you’re interested. First listen streams for Idler Wheel are popping up all over the place – NPR/New York Times – but if you’re like me, you’ll hold out to buy the actual CD on June 19th. Until then, watch Fiona who wants to be/next to the sea/with an octopus’s garden on her head.
NO DOUBT – PUSH AND SHOVE
Set for a September 25th release date, the band will let loose their first single from Push and Shove, a track called “Settle Down,” on July 16th. Until this happens, settling down will be quite the task. Be sure to program your DVR for what is sure to be an insane performance on Fallon on July 26th. In the meantime, check out their teaser video and keep your eyes out for another one coming soon.
GREEN DAY – UNO! DOS! TRE!
Why release one album when you can release three? Well, there lot’s of reasons, but Green Day’s not so worried about them. Spanning through fall and winter, get psyched for a three dose fix of new punk-pop tunes. It’s still too early for any solid news on what to expect, but Billie Joe has said these are some of the best songs of the band’s career. I’m mostly curious to see how they’re going to handle touring and promoting three albums at once… It’s going to be a busy year. Keep your eye out for studio updates on youtube, and feel cool knowing I’m doing the same exact thing.
This year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony aired Saturday on HBO and… It. Was. So. GOOD. From Flea’s heartfelt acceptance speech to the reaction to an absent Axl Rose, the show was jam packed with memorable moments. Most memorable obviously was The Roots, joined by Kid Rock and Travie from Gym Class Heroes, bringing the house down with their tribute to the Beastie Boys, but as an added bonus Green Day killed it as the show’s opening act.
Clips of both are below. Enjoy!!
The Roots (feat. Kid Rock and Travi) – Beastie Boys Tribute
Green Day “Letterbomb”
Want amazing arms and hate pushups? Play guitar. You’ll see results in no time.