Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Meaning of Lists

Books and articles which (and authors whom) list the 'best of' or 'greatest' of anything are always going to be accused of exclusion, overinclusion, esotericism, elitism, cultural prejudice/imbalance, etc. British author Garry Mulholland has received a fair share of criticism from music geeks on both sides of the pond for his newest book, Fear of Music: The Greatest 261 Albums Since Punk and Disco. Released in late 2006, Fear is a companion piece to his earlier musicological rank and file book, This Is Uncool: The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk and Disco.

Despite what one thinks of the genre of music 'list' books, their authors should be commended for their naive bravery and brazen pretentiousness. Because these authors are always going to receive flack no matter how good that list actually is. For instance, if one were to say that the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the best album of all time, there will always be numerous detractors ready and waiting to decry that no it isn't (and the author is too mainstream - what about the B-side of Abbey Road or this album by this obscure artist?) Or worst of all, the cognesceti will be quick to state that the choice made is too obvious and/or that the assertion is easy to make because it's the least likely to be refuted.

At a certain point - to effectively complete the task of a best of list - the person making the list has just got to say screw it and run with what they got through the minefield of negative criticism. And for this even the most casual of readers should be grateful. Because the pleasure in perusing these books (and let's face it - most of us won't buy them because they're basically flip throughs at the bookstore and how many coffee table books does one need) is the opportunity we are afforded in this activity to offer up a sanctimonious "oh yeah that would definitely be in my top 10 because it's so blahblahblah" or utter an insulted "what the hell - what about blahblahblah". But better yet, we may be presented with something that makes the list that we've never thought of before or have neglected to pay any critical attention to. And even better still is being able to take that overlooked/neglected item and claim it as your own in your own list - as if it was always a top 10er.

All this being said, I have one thing that I must get off my chest regarding what constitutes an album in Mulholland's Fear (and this is without ever really reading it and of course - y'know - buying it). Mulholland seems to define 'album' broadly; this allows him to list several 'greatest hits' albums of some artists and compilations of various artists to the exclusion of some of those artists' other albums that can rightfully stand on their own (with Madonna's Immaculate Collection being one exception). I disagree with this formulation. Moreover - since it appears that Mulholland defines an album as almost everything under the sun - why does he exclude notable compilations that were released in the periods covered in Fear such as the Nuggets box sets?

Here's my argument for what defines an album's greatness...An album is great if you can listen to every (or nearly every) track on it - in sequence, but jumping around is okay - as it was originally made. It doesn't have to be a concept album - and usually concept albums falter because the onus of keeping a consistent theme throughout appears to be too much for some artists - but it has to be good "as is". It's easy for a frat boy/sorority girl to say that Bob Marley's Legend album is their favorite Marley album: "Like, oh my gawd, every song is soooooo awesome on that album!" And I know why - because it's a greatest hits collection! The compiler knows that So Jah Seh (from Natty Dread) isn't gonna make someone - be it a guy or a girl - take their shirt off at a kegger and hug someone. No. That's gonna require the live version of No Woman, No Cry.

"Emancipate yourself from mental slavery bro."

Here's the list from Mulholland's Fear already. I'm going to try to reserve my criticisms of what's there and what's not there for the years in which I was actually paying attention to music. And I'm not going to sprinkle in any of my own 'esoteric' albums. But I had to interject in some places...

• The Ramones: Ramones
• The Modern Lovers: The Modern Lovers
• Stevie Wonder: Songs In the Key of Life

• The Congos: Heart of the Congos
• David Bowie: Low
• Television: Marquee Moon
• Iggy Pop: The Idiot
• The Ramones: Leave Home
• Kraftwerk: Trans-Europe Express
• The Clash: The Clash
• Ian Dury: New Boots and Panties
• Fela Anikulapo Kuti & the Africa 70: Sorrow Tears and Blood
• Iggy Pop: Lust For Life
• Randy Newman: Little Criminals
• Talking Heads: Talking Heads77
• David Bowie: Heroes
• Roxy Music: Greatest Hits
• Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks, Heres the Sex Pistols!
• Suicide: Suicide
• Wire: Pink Flag
• Brian Eno: Before and After Science
• The Ramones: Rocket to Russia

• XTC: White Music
• The Buzzcocks: Another Music In a Different Kitchen
• Elvis Costello: This Year’s Model
• Various Artists: Saturday Night Fever Original Soundtrack
• Pere Ubu: The Modern Dance
• Kraftwerk: The Man Machine
• The Rolling Stones: Some Girls
• The Rezillos: Can’t Stand the Rezillos
• Blondie: Parallel Lines
• Devo: Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
• Dr. Alimantado: Best Dressed Chicken In Town
• Wire: Chairs Missing
• Can: Cannibalism
• X-Ray Spex: Germfree Adolescents
• Siouxsie & the Banshees: The Scream
• The Jam: All Mod Cons
• Earth, Wind & Fire: The Best of…. Vol. One

• The Fall: Live At the Witch Trials
• Elvis Costello & the Attractions: Armed Forces
• Magazine: Secondhand Daylight
• The Undertones: The Undertones
• Earth, Wind & Fire: I Am
• The B-52s: The B-52s
• XTC: Drums and Wires
• Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures
• Michael Jackson: Off the Wall
• Talking Heads: Fear of Music
• Gang of Four: Entertainment!
• Misty In Roots: Live At the Counter-Eurovision
• The Slits: Cut
• The Police: Regatta De Blanc [The Police suck.]
• The Specials: The Specials
• Chic: Les Plus Grands Succes de Chic - Chic’s Greatest Hits
• Public Image Ltd.: Metal Box/Second Edition
• The Clash: London Calling

[With the exception of one 'album' by Chic, Mulholland almost ignores the disco genre altogether. There were many great disco artists that existed who were overshadowed by campy co-opted groups such as the Village People - artists that made disco suck. Where are the good/real disco artists? This is a shame especially since disco is the genre which gave rise to the dance music that Mulholland appears to like.]

• The Pretenders: The Pretenders [I've said before, and I'll say it again, the Pretenders suck.]
• Young Marble Giants: Colossal Youth [Good choice! No disagreement here...]
• Various Artists (Rough Trade): Wanna Buy a Bridge?
• Magazine: The Correct Use of Soap
• The Beat: I Just Can’t Stop It
• The Human League: Travelogue
• Diana Ross: Diana
• Cristina: Cristina
• Dexys Midnight Runners: Searching For the Young Soul Rebels [I tried to like this one but it didn't really do much for me.]
• Echo & the Bunnymen: Crocodiles
• Joy Division: Closer
• The Associates: The Affectionate Punch
• David Bowie: Scary Monsters
• The Specials: More Specials
• The Teardrop Explodes: Kilimanjaro
• Talking Heads: Remain In Light
• Killing Joke: Killing Joke
• Adam & the Ants: Kings of the Wild Frontier
• The Jam: Sound Affects

• Brian Eno & David Byrne: My Life In the Bush of Ghosts
• Gang of Four: Solid Gold
• Au Pairs: Playing With A Different Sex
• Echo & the Bunnymen: Heaven Up Here
• Grace Jones: Nighclubbing
• Duran Duran: Duran Duran
• Siouxsie & the Banshees: Juju
• Was (Not Was): Was (Not Was)
• Various Artists (ZE Records): Mutant Disco
• Blondie: The Best of Blondie
• BowWowWow: See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah. City All Over! Go Ape Crazy
• The Human League: Dare
• The Buzzcocks: Singles Going Steady
• Japan: Tin Drum
• Soft Cell: Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret

• Orange Juice: You Cant Hide Your Love Forever
• The Wipers: Youth of America
• The Clash: Combat Rock
• Gang of Four: Songs of the Free
• Scritti Politti: Songs to Remember
• The Associates: Sulk
• ABC: The Lexicon of Love
• Elvis Costello & the Attractions: Imperial Bedroom
• Yazoo: Upstairs At Erics
• Simple Minds: New Gold Dream
• Kate Bush: The Dreaming
• Bruce Springsteen: Nebraska
• Donald Fagen: The Nightfly
• Marvin Gaye: Midnight Love
• Squeeze: Singles 45s & Under
• Siouxsie & the Banshees: A Kiss In the Dreamhouse
• Michael Jackson: Thriller

[You see how Mulholland is avoiding Dexys Midnight Runners' Too-Rye-Ay album - the commercial hit but not critical success album? Guess he didn't like this Celtic Soul Brothers incarnation...C'mon Eileen anyone?]

• Tom Waits & Crystal Gale: One From the Heart Original Soundtrack
• The Cramps: Off the Bone
• New Order: Power, Corruption and Lies
• The Cure: Boys Don’t Cry
• Tom Waits: Swordfishtrumbones
• The The: Soul Mining

• The Smiths: The Smiths
• Prefab Sprout: Swoon
• Bruce Springsteen: Born In the U.S.A.
• Run D.M.C.: Run D.M.C.
• Prince & the Revolution: Purple Rain
• Violent Femmes: Hallowed Ground
• Lloyd Cole & the Commotions: Rattlesnakes
• The Smiths: Hatful of Hollow

[This was the momentous year that Bob Marley's 'album' Legend was first released.]

• Prince & the Revolution: Around the World In A Day
• New Order: Low-Life
• Prefab Sprout: Steve McQueen
• The Pogues: Rum Sodomy & the Lash
• Dexys Midnight Runners: Dont Stand Me Down [Again, I tried to like this one too but it also didn't really do much for me. This is a so-called re-evaluated critic's fave.]
• Kate Bush: Hounds of Love
• Tom Waits: Rain Dogs

• The Cramps: A Date With Elvis
• Hüsker Dü: Candy Apple Grey [Really - this album?]
• Prince & the Revolution: Parade
• The Smiths: The Queen Is Dead
• Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill
• Mantronix: Music Madness

[Where's Run D.M.C.'s Raising Hell?]

• Bad Brains: I Against I
• Prince: SignOthe Times
• Public Enemy: Yo! Bum Rush the Show
• Big Black: Songs About Fucking
• Pet Shop Boys: Actually
• Boogie Down Productions: Criminal Minded
• Eric B. & Rakim: Paid In Full

[I won't hide it or deny it - U2's The Joshua Tree is a great album that should be on here. Yeah, they were the first band I ever saw live in 1988 at the Oakland Coliseum - what of it? And I've seen them 3 more times since...]

• Boogie Down Productions: By All Means Necessary
• Biz Markie: GoinOff
• The Pixies: Surfer Rosa
• The Jesus & Mary Chain: Barbed Wire Kisses
• Various Artists: Acid Trax Vol. Two
• Various Artists: House Hallucinates - Pump Up London Vol. One
• The Jungle Brothers: Straight Out the Jungle [There are quite a bit of Native Tongues albums that make Mulholland's list.]
• Public Enemy: It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
• Pet Shop Boys: Introspective
• Eric B. & Rakim: Follow the Leader
EPMD: Strictly Business
• Happy Mondays: Bummed
• My Bloody Valentine: Isn’t Anything
• Fugazi: Fugazi

• New Order: Technique
• De La Soul: 3 Feet High and Rising
• The Pixies: Doolittle
• N.W.A.: Straight Outta Compton [After selling chocolate candy bars like you wouldn't believe, my 8th grade class raised enough money for a graduation field trip to Manteca Waterslides. Since the teachers were sitting up front, me and this girl that sat on my lap throughout the whole bus trip listened to this tape on a small boombox with the volume on kind of low. Man, I remember her spectacular jheri curl as if it were yesterday. At one point, she asked me if I had a - y'know - marker of arousement. I told her no - and that was the truth - but thanked her for her unintended compliment. Good times.]

• The Fall: Extricate
• The Fall: 458489 A-Sides
• Public Enemy: Fear of a Black Planet
• Sonic Youth: Goo [Mulholland goes for this often criticized 'commercial' album as opposed to taking the easy route and picking 1988's Daydream Nation. Kudos!]
• Pet Shop Boys: Behaviour
• Morrissey: Bona Drag
• The La’s: The Las
• Happy Mondays: Pills NThrills and Bellyaches
• Madonna: The Immaculate Collection

[No Stone Roses debut but the La’s?]

• Various Artists: Retro Techno/Emotions Electric
• Slint: Spiderland
• R.E.M.: Out of Time
• Massive Attack: Blue Lines
• Son of Bazerk featuring No Self Control the Band: Bazerk Bazerk Bazerk
• A Tribe Called Quest: The Low End Theory

[Thankfully omitted is Nirvana's Nevermind - an album which did NOTHING for me. Curiously missing - especially since Mulholland is a Brit - is My Bloody Valentine's Loveless.]

• Cypress Hill: Cypress Hill
• Madness: Divine Madness
• Body Count: Body Count [Really? This album and band were always more controversy than substance. I even saw them live at One Step Beyond in Santa Clara!]
• Sugar: Copper Blue
• The Jayhawks: Hollywood Town Hall
• R.E.M.: Automatic For the People

[Does anybody else feel that Mulholland is being too generous with R.E.M.? Where's the Pharcyde's Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde?]

• Dr. Dre: The Chronic
• Blur: Modern Life Is Rubbish
• Björk: Debut
• A Tribe Called Quest: Midnight Marauders

• Blur: Parklife
• Morrissey: Vauxhall & I
• Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Let Love In
• Nas: Illmatic
• Prodigy: Music For the Jilted Generation
• Oasis: Definitely Maybe
• Jeff Buckley: Grace
• Portishead: Dummy
• Massive Attack: Protection
• TLC: Crazysexycool

• PJ Harvey: To Bring Me Your Love
• Tricky: Maxinquaye
• Radiohead: The Bends
• 2 Pac: Me Against the World
• Björk: Post
• Black Grape: It’s Great When You’re StraightYeah
• Rocket From the Crypt: Scream Dracula, Scream!

• Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Murder Ballads
• The Divine Comedy: Casanova
• Beck: Odelay
• Belle and Sebastian: If You’re Feeling Sinister
• Johnny Cash: Unchained

• Blur: Blur
• Erykah Badu: Baduizm
• Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: The Boatmans Call
• Spiritualized: Ladies and Gentleman We Are Floating In Space
• Missy ‘Misdemeanor’ Elliott: Supa Dupa Fly
• Cornershop: When I Was Born For the 7th Time
• Bob Dylan: Time Out of Mind
• Portishead: Portishead

• Air: Moon Safari
• Madonna: Ray of Light
• Massive Attack: Mezzanine
• Tricky: Angels With Dirty Faces
• Depeche Mode: The Singles 81-85 & 86-98
• Lauryn Hill: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill [I've said it before, and I'll say it again, Lauryn Hill is an idiot.]
• The Afghan Whigs: 1965

• Eminem: The Slim Shady LP
• Basement Jaxx: Remedy
• Gang Starr: Full Clip: A Decade of Gang Starr
• Johnny Dowd: Pictures From Lifes Other Side
• Iggy Pop: Avenue B
• Le Tigre: Le Tigre
• The Make-Up: Save Yourself
• Mos Def: Black On Both Sides
• Q-Tip: Amplified [C'mon - this album sucked!]
• Beastie Boys: The Sounds of Science Box Set

• Kathryn Williams: Little Black Numbers
• Primal Scream: Exterminator
• D’Angelo: Voodoo
• Kelis: Kaleidoscope
• Lambchop: Nixon
• Black Box Recorder: The Facts of Life
• Eminem: The Marshall Mathers LP
• ESG: A South Bronx Story
• PJ Harvey: Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea
• Johnny Cash: American III - Solitary Man
• Outkast: Stankonia
• Wu-Tang Clan: The W [Apparently, WTC's 1993 album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) doesn't measure up.]

• Stephen Malkmus: Stephen Malkmus
• The Dirtbombs: Ultraglide In Black
• Air: 10,000hz Legend
• Radiohead: Amnesiac
• System of a Down: Toxicity
• The Strokes: Is This It?

• A Certain Ratio: Early
• Lambchop: Is A Woman
Queens of the Stone Age: Songs For the Deaf
• The Libertines: Up the Bracket
• Pulp: Hits

• The White Stripes: Elephant
• Dizzee Rascal: Boy In Da Corner
• The Fiery Furnaces: Gallowsbird’s Bark
• Outkast: Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

Q: Are we not geeks? A: No! We are douches!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I Believe In Me

Yesterday, I got my results for the February 2007 Oregon Bar Exam. I had fortified myself by preparing for inevitable failure. It would have made the prospect of taking this Bar exam again less...hhhmm, surprising? But I passed. I guess now it's really time to begin life in Portland. I didn't really think it would be so anti-climatic. Similarly, like when I became an American citizen last month, this experience - which should be joyous (and I know I'm being a complete asshole in not appreciating what I've got) - is lacking in I don't really know what. But I must take time out to thank everyone who has put up with me for the last several months. I wouldn't have done it without your patience and support.

OK, I am really getting a kick at thinking of triumphant songs to post today. Songs that make you strut. Or pump your fist.

Piero Piccioni: Missione Morte Molo 83 (Alternate Theme)
First up, is the an alternate take of theme from the 60s Italian spy-flick Missione Morte Molo 83 composed by Piero Piccioni. This is a personal strutting fave of mine but I thought it was too short so I extended the tune by repeating one if its sections. Don't worry it's not a monotonous re-edit. Buy the album!

The Avengers: I Believe In Me
Next, we have a song by the Avengers. The Avengers' I Believe In Me can be found on their self-titled album (a.k.a. the "Pink Album"). It's out-of-print but you can buy a CDR of it here - from vocalist Penelope Houston herself (I believe). Well, it's from the site where I got mine...

Gang Starr: Work
This is Work by Gang Starr. This is one of my all time favorite tracks ever in any genre - rap, country, rock, etc. - whatever. I stand by it. I listened to this during the actual Bar exam during every break to "pump" myself up. Every ten minute break, lunch, using the restroom...It was hard not to rap along to this and look like a total loser (or a "nippa" - can I make that word up?). Great battle rhymes: "Yo I scoped it out - I took your weak dream and choked it out. Your bitch don't really got no ass she just poked it out. On the d-low, I'm saying you versus me yo - we can do this shit right here in front of your people." Buy the album!

23 Skidoo: IY
Next up is IY by 23 Skidoo. Since I should be publicly embarassing myself by doing a polyrhythmic dance in celebration of today's events, this tune is the perfect accompaniment. This is from the currently out-of-print album, Seven Songs. If you can find it - buy the album!

Ultramagnetic MCs: Pluckin' Cards
Here's Pluckin' Cards by the Ultramagnetic MCs. Like most people, I think this is one of the best diss tracks ever. It's a great tune off of the otherwise unremarkable Funk Your Head Up album. Kool Keith goes off on everyone from Kool Moe Dee, LL Cool J, Monie Luv, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Called Quest, etc. This is the type of tune that makes you want to engage in a battle of the 8 Mile variety. Then you realize you can't rap let alone freestyle. Buy the album used for $50 (whoa)!

Brian Eno: Stiff
This is the song Stiff from the aborted My Squelchy Life album by Brian Eno. Some of the scrapped songs from this album can be found on the pricey Eno Box II: Vocals. I used to think the chorus went "I want to be deeeaaaaad" but instead it's "I want to be theeeeerre". So it's an uplifting tune rather than a depressing one. Enjoy. Buy the album!

Del the Funky Homosapien: Catch a Bad One
Okay, one more on the hip hop tip. This is one of the very few Del the Funky [now 'tha Funkee'] Homosapien tracks I like (in light of the whole inexplicable early 2000s Gorillaz phenomenon) from the No Need For Alarm album. In 1993, I purchased this album album along with the Souls of Mischief '93 to Infinity. While the latter is now a classic, the former has always been missing something more exciting in terms of subject matter. But it's still much better than the wack Street Knowledge affiliated I Wish My Brother George Was Here. Buy the album!

John Cale: Big White Cloud
Finally, we have John Cale's Big White Cloud. This is from his overlooked Vintage Violence album (the one with the vaguely Georges Franju Eyes Without a Face like cover art). There was an article in MOJO in February 2007 giving readers an overview of "must have" Cale albums. This wasn't one of them. What a crime. If this was a new album, MOJO would likely give it 4 stars even while dissing it - because MOJO can't write a bad review to save their lives. This song makes me feel life is good and worth living. Buy the album!

C'est si bon?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Aesthetic similarities & the musical theatre

Clean lines drawing attention to the necks of chanteuses in profile? Am I the only one who sees the cover to Feist's new album as an homage to the cover of the mutant disco diva Cristina's classic 80s album?

Ms. Feist and her album, The Reminder, appears to be receiving the overhype treatment. Read about it in the New Yorker, Venus Zine (Sassy - they are soooo not), Bust, etc. Usually I'm very wary of music and artists who get this type of makeover treatment (Feist was Peaches' onstage cohort "Bitch Lap Lap"). I'm sure the blogs are clogged with gushing praise for Feist - blogs usually written by curmudgeon men in their 30s whose hipster glory is fading like denim jackets decorated with band buttons or whose leather jackets are getting stiff and cracked with age and responsibilities. Hey wait a minute...

But I couldn't suppress a silly grin and an awkward foot shuffle while watching the presumptively shot in one-take video for the single, 1 2 3 4 dir. Patrick Daughters. I love any music video with Busby Berkeley-esque kaleidoscopic choregraphy (e.g., Björk's It's Oh So Quiet dir. Spike Jonze & Aphex Twin's Windowlicker dir. Chris Cunningham). And, of course, I'm a sucker for Jazzercise.

And here's a Cristina track on the Sleep It Off album, Cristina as Jenny with Ben Brierley as Macheath - Mackie Messer ("Mack the Knife") singing Brecht & Weill's Zuhälterballade (Ballad of Immoral Earnings a.k.a. Tango Ballad) from The Threepenny Opera.

To be thorough, the graphic artist behind Cristina's Sleep It Off album cover was Jean-Paul Goude. Goude used the same aesthetic for his [now] ex-wife, Grace Jones' album, Slave to the Rhythm.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Can't Hardly Wait...To Die

The Replacements' Can't Hardly Wait was used as the title song for the late 90s movie of the same name. For some reason, I liked this movie a lot when it came out. I even bought the videotape! But now, I can't figure out what drew me to this movie in the first place. Was it the childish humor? Seth Green playing a "wigga"? Jennifer Love Hewitt's breasts and horse face? It's a mystery why and how I could have been such a big fan. At that time, I was in my early 20s, and the idealized memories and experiences of my high school years had long been replaced by the phantasmagoria of excessive binge drinking and meaningless 'adult' relationships - I was no longer a member of the target teenage audience this movie was presumably trying to attract. But yet I watched this movie 3 times in the theaters (40 oz. in hand)! However, I can vividly recall that upon watching a trailer for this movie, I told my girlfriend at the time that any movie with the title Can't Hardly Wait must have that 'Mats (i.e., the Replacements) song in it, and therefore I - as a nerdy 'Mats fan - was required to watch the movie on this basis alone.

It's always struck me as a little disturbing that the writers/producers/decisionmakers/etc. of this movie decided to name it after this particular 'Mats song. The movie is a 'humorous' and 'light-hearted' take on the average teenagers' awkward transition from the high school social scene (with its mandatory unknown/unrequited crushes) to the heady profundity and exuberance of young adult life. But the 'Mats song is about suicide and not being able to follow through. Pretty much the narrator in the song is saying s/he can't hardly wait to die. And specifically - it's about death by hurling oneself off a scummy water tower (the 'Mats are from the Midwest in case you didn't know). This is not just my interpretation of the lyrics, it's what singer/guitarist Paul Westerberg had intended to convey. I get this information from an interview conducted with him from some fansite I can't remember. Trust me. Or Wikipedia it up for all I care. I'll make a Wikipedia entry on it right now to substantiate my own claim. Anyway, either the Can't Hardly Wait movie crew had no knowledge of the song's theme; or knew of it and intended the movie's title to be ironic; or they just didn't care.

The following is a cursory look at the evolution of the 'Mats' song, Can't Hardly Wait.

Can't Hardly Wait (Live: Nov. 11, 1984): bootleg recording of the original 'Mats lineup confiscated from an unknown fan at the Bowery in Oklahmoma City, OK. Shortly afterward, this bootleg was released as The Shit Hits the Fans in cassette form only by the 'Mats label, Twin/Tone (with cover and insert artwork by drummer Chris Mars). During this period, the song - although yet to be recorded in a studio - was a regular song in the 'Mats set list. At some point in 2004, The Shit Hits the Fans bootleg was re-released on vinyl for a limited time by some record company whose name I can't think of. I didn't buy it because I had already bought it as a CD rip at a record swap some years ago. And a bootleg is a bootleg is a bootleg. NOTE: guitarist Bob Stinson's drunken half-assed guitar solo is awesome. Read all the unsubstantiated facts regarding this recording on Wikipedia!

Can't Hardly Wait (The scrapped version from the 1985 Tim album): officially released in the "best of" CD All For Nothing/Nothing For All. This is the only studio recording of Can't Hardly Wait with Bob still on guitar. Great lyrics here that I've always interpreted to have one of two possible meanings - either that Heaven is so incredibly boring you've got to get out of there or that the only way into Heaven is by means of subterfuge - because Paul's Catholic school education won't let him believe a suicide victim gets into Heaven [?] ("I'll be sad in Heaven if I don't find a hole in the gate"). Buy the album!

Can't Hardly Wait (The "airshaft" version from the lost Alex Chilton Pleased to Meet Me produced sessions in 1987): recorded in an elevator shaft at Blackberry Way Studios in Minneapolis - after Paul had already given Bob the boot. As the infamous 'Mats mythology alleges, the original Chilton-produced masters were tossed into the Mississippi River by the band. Chilton's efforts were not lost - the 'Mats recorded the song Alex Chilton in tribute to him (and their love of Big Star) for Pleased to Meet Me. Despite its muddled bootleg quality, this is without question my favorite version - the theme of suicide creeps back in a subtle and menacing way. In this rendition, the aforementioned scrapped Tim version lyrics are changed to: "I'll be there in an hour if there's a hole in the gate - climb to the top of this crummy water tower screaming 'I can't hardly wait'". The suicide water tower motif persists throughout all the versions of Can't Hardly Wait until Pleased to Meet Me.

Can't Hardly Wait (released version from Pleased to Meet Me): the Memphis horns and strings version produced by Jim Dickinson. Once again, this is a post-Bob recording with Paul doing all of the guitar parts. Supposedly, the band couldn't even stand to be in the studio while these frilly parts were recorded and added into the final mix. This reworked version changes the theme from suicide to being away/returning home (sort of like the 'Mats version of Merle Haggard & the Strangers' highway song White Line Fever). The suicide theme is instead applied to another song on the album, The Ledge, and according to 'Mats legend, someone did unfortunately take that song too seriously and jumped off a building to their death. Buy the album!

And if you're so inclined - buy the Can't Hardly Wait DVD.

It's a dog's life...

My dog, Jin, has now been relocated to Portland. He is adjusting to life with MK and our two other dogs. Of the bunch, he'll always be the 'Coward of the County'. Can't you tell? The underdog...

Giorgio Moroder: Underdog

Buy the album!