8.30.2011

"An Up P.O.V."

Standing beneath a palm, outside the Mission Inn, Riverside, CA


Lying on my back, eyeing the Peace Tower of Mt. Rubidoux, Riverside, CA

8.28.2011

The Best Heavy Metal Songs of All Time You've Probably Never Heard (and Never Wanted to Hear), Part I

A mighty metal list comprised both of novelty/shock-value metal classics, as well as some truly great metal songs that no one except metal dorks like myself remember, and who still, to this day, without shame or embarrassment, enjoy blasting with the windows down, whether in automobile or home residence (blasting, that is, when my not-so-heavy-metal-sympathetic-but-otherwise-excellent, wife, is not around).  The list is in the order they came to me; it's not a ranked list; it's arbitrary, free-kickass-associative -- Freudian -- in other words, with many crude and crass references to phallic symbols, and this list is just Part I of hopefully many more mighty metal lists to come.


01. Screaming in the Night by Krokus

A true classic metal tune from their classic metal album, Headhunter.
Headhunter
The best metal band ever to come out of Switzerland in my opinion (and there were at least two!) and this was their finest six minutes and 41 seconds ever.  But like so many up-and-coming metal bands of their generation, they went softcore pop after this record's release, probably caused by record company pressure looking for a commercial hit; in fact, their follow up record, The Blitz, was so non-metal pop-ish, it should've been titled, The Shits.  They soon lost their original hardcore fan base, myself included.  But they're still huge in Switzerland.


02. Burning Heart by Vandenberg.

Burning Heart 

Adrian Vandenberg, for a time, was the most melodious shredder on the planet.  I don't know what happened to him or his band after they released this classic metal ballad.  I'm pretty sure he joined Whitesnake in '87, for their monster self-titled record they released that year (the one with the sultry Tawny Kitten videos in which David Coverdale got himself some stellar tongue action going with her), but beyond that, I really don't know.  If anybody does knows, do drop me a note.

03. Nightmare
by Saxon

A favorite cut off, I think, their finest album, The Power and the Glory (1983), not based on the novel by Graham Greene.
Power And The Glory (2009 Digital Remaster + Bonus Tracks) 

Saxon sold 15,000 copies of this record in L.A. alone, the day it was released.  Always huge in Britain and France, they never quite cracked the U.S.A. metal scene with huge sales, and radio airplay was scanty, at best.  Regardless, I enjoy their albums as much as I do Iron Maiden's or Judas Priest's, their most similar sounding metal siblings, whether it's their debut record from '79,
Saxon;
Saxon
or, Wheels of Steel, '80;
Wheels of Steel

or, Strong Arm of the Law, '80;
Strong Arm of the Law (2009)

or, Denim and Leather, '81;

Denim & Leather

or '84s epic-themed opus, Crusader.
Crusader
I lost track of Saxon in the late '80s, but lo and behold, they'll be playing locally at the Galaxy Theatre in Santa Ana, Oct. 2, 2011.  I'm so tempted to go see them!  JUST LET ME ROCK!!!

04. A.I.R. by Anthrax 

KNAC (105.5) out of Los Angeles, turned me on to this blitzing ditty and sonically contagious band in the mid-80s, and introduced the world, along with their cousins, Slayer, to a term called "thrash".
Spreading the Disease 

05. In Trance album by Scorpions


The Scorpions had two acts in their careers.  The opening tracks featured here their third studio release, 1975s In Trance, are from Act I, nearly spanning the entire decade of the Seventies, when they were an up-and-coming band out of Germany who found modest success in their homeland, and Japan.  Uli Jon Roth (pictured second from right on the back of the album cover) was their trailblazing, classically-trained, lead guitarist, appearing on their first five studio albums and their first double-live record, The Tokyo Tapes (1972 -1978), which was also Uli's last recording with the band.  Lead vocalist, Klaus Meine, convinced him to stick around for the live recording, perhaps as a way to sum up and celebrate the bands history in the Seventies, and it's a good thing Uli did, because The Tokyo Tapes feature both the best of his live performances and The Scorpions at their then finest even though the band knew their future was uncertain with his impending departure.  There wasn't bad blood between Uli and the rest of the band, he was just too much an original player to remain in the naturally confining limits of a rock band.  Can you imagine Yngwie J. Malmsteen (arguably the only other player -- at least the only one for me -- you can mention in the same sentence as Uli) lasting very long in a band in which he felt he could not completely and freely express the full range of his vision and artistry?  Neither could Uli.  Uli's guitar licks on "Dark Lady" kick preternatural ass, and "In Trance" is the Scorpions playing as a band, even with a guitar genius in their midst, at their then best cohesively, as one.

06. Queen of the Reich by Queensryche.

Queensryche 

God, I mean, Satan!, did this song, the first song I ever heard by them, off their debut EP, sound so heavy, ominous, and aggressive (circa 1983).  They were the IT underground metal band that year.  KMETs (94.7 FM) "Mighty Metal Shop" show, out of Los Angeles, broke the record (outside of their hometown, Seattle) and played it to damn death.  As far as I'm concerned, even though they'd eventually become HUGE, it was all downhill for Queensryche after "Queen of the Reich".

7. She Loves My Cock  by Jackyl

She Loves My Cock [Explicit] 

I wanted this song playing when my bride walked down the aisle at our wedding, but she wouldn't sign off on it.  Strange.  Jackyl is a very cocky band indeed, and with good reason, most well known in the mainstream for "The Lumberjack," a spoof/send up of AC/DCs classic, "The Jack," a song about an STD.  The link is an excerpt of the song, spotlighting a fan at a live show who had that extra somethun-somethun on proud, prolific display for his fellow concertgoers. 

8. I Got Erection by Turbonegro
















slickdpdx, from LibraryThing (it's his fault), turned me on to this band.  "I Got Erection" is not the bands most representative work by far, but it's an excellent segue, if I say so myself, from Jackyl's "She Loves My Cock" (just can't say that enough!), and it certainly fits into the category, I think, of heavy metal songs one probably wishes they'd never heard.

9. See You in Hell by Grim Reaper

 See You in Hell

I think these guys, Grim Reaper, were inspired by Spinal Tap, except they took Spinal Tap seriously. Seriously.  Grim Reaper: Poseurs supreme.


10. Disciple (God Hates Us All) by Slayer
If you fuck with this band, Slayer, they'll kill you.  No joke.
 
11. Gates of Hell by Burn
Early '80s Swedish metal at its raunchiest!

12. The Day I Walked Away by Drown 

The lead singer of Drown, Lauren Boquette, has been described as the angriest man in metal.  In high school, though, he was a funny guy.  We talked metal quite often at lunch, but even then he was in a completely different metal universe than me, so hardcore obsessed he was with all-things-metal, be it import picture-disc 12" singles or the obscurest of band attire and merchandising, he could drop band names and musicians and concerts like he were some teenage metal guru, regaling us with shows and underground album knowledge I'd learn of only later, after whatever said album became minorly famous.  He had a cynical sense of humor.  In an economics glass in junior high one afternoon, rather than giving his oral report on standard subjects like supply and demand or buying low and selling high, he gave an oral report on the economics and merchandising of heavy metal.

13. Bathroom Wall by Faster Pussycat

Bathroom Wall (LP Version) 

Such sound advice for Metal Manwhores everywhere seeking Sluts anywhere.

14. Love to Love by UFO 

Lights Out Strangers in the Night (Exp)
One of my favorite bands period, UFO, heavy metal or not.  They should've been huge.  They had their moments in the late '70s, went gold a few times with the classic records Lights Out, Obsession, and their double-live masterpiece, Strangers in the Night, but so many personnel changes in quick succession following Michael Schenker's departure, finally killed off any momentum, mainstay lead vocalist, Phil Mogg, could muster.  "Love to Love" is a beautiful momentum-building rocker, both live and on its original studio release, 1977s, Lights Out.


15. Arpeggios From Hell by Yngwie J. Malmsteen

Arpeggios From Hell 

Whether playing with that oddball old metal band of his, Alcatrazz, or his Rising Force, or going solo, Yngwie Mozart, er, Malmsteen, is the one, the only, Mozart of Heavy Metal.  Not Eddie Van Halen.  Not Randy Rhoads (R.I.P., Randy, you know I love you).  Not Steve Vai.  Not Tony MacAlpine (but Lucifer, is he close!)  Not nobody.  Not unless their name is Yngwie J. Malmsteen.  Whom, by the way, I'll be fortunate enough to witness perform alive at The House of Blues in October (knock on wood).

The Best Heavy Metal Songs of All Time You've Probably Never Heard (and Didn't Want to Hear), Part II, coming SOON to a Freeque blog near you ....

8.25.2011

"Graven Images"

The Watchful Padres of Ventura City Hall


Stunning resemblance to the talking headstones of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion ride                                                                






Fr. Junipero Serra 

8.24.2011

Joseph McElroy



Joseph McElroy is one of my favorite all time writers.

photo by Scott Bryan Wilson
Hardly anybody reads him.  Those who do are in a group probably not even large enough to be termed a "cult".  If you click on his name above, it'll take you to a thread I started over in LibraryThing on the author.  A very short thread, turned out to be, but with some great links to the rare and excellent articles that have been written about him.  There just isn't very much interest in his novels for some strange reason -- stellar and innovative for the past half century though they are -- and that's a shame.  In fact, not even his most popular novel has even seventy-five owners in LibraryThing.  Read just one of his books, and try telling me with a straight face, if you can, that he's not as good if not better than John Barth, Tom Pynchon, Robert Coover, or William Gaddis.  If you can tell me that, then you're obviously lying.  So, pick from one of his books below, order it (or, good luck finding it even secondhand at your favorite indie bookstore, but I won't fault you for trying) and get reading him, Joseph McElroy, pronto, because Freeque, er, DICK, says so, that's why!


1. A Smuggler's Bible (1966, a philosophical exploration/excavation through an existential labyrinth of identities)
A Smugglers Bible

2. Hind's Kidnap : A Pastoral on Familiar Airs (1969, hardest book of his to find, and most expensive to purchase)
3. Ancient History: A Paraphase (1971, nearly as hard to obtain as his second novel, good luck finding it!)
4. Lookout Cartridge (1974, a literary mystery thriller revolving around indie film making)
Lookout Cartridge

4. Plus (1977, science fiction; that is, philosophical SF McElroy-style, exploring the genesis of consciousness from the p.o.v. of a disembodied brain orbiting Earth. Reminiscent of Frank Herbert's Destination: Void, which featured "organic mental cores" -- brains -- powering a spacecraft.)
Plus

5. Women and Men (1986, an indefinable 1,100 page treatise on apartment dwellers in NYC; a portion of the novel was released in a limited edition in 1980, under the title, Ship Rock: A Place.)
Women and Men

6. The Letter Left to Me (1988, a father's legacy and love, left to his son in a letter -- moving, and unusually slim book, by McElroy)
The Letter Left to Me

7. Actress in the House (2003, too much drama, Mama)
Actress in the House


9. Preparations for Search (2010)

10. Night Soul and Other Stories (2011, McElroy's first collection of short stories, from Dalkey Archive)
Night Soul and Other Stories (American Literature Series)

11. Fathers Untold (novel, that last I'd heard was then titled, Cannonball, long-in-the-making, nearing completion, according to news post on his blog, 08.05.11 -- I'm really looking forward to this one.  Please, please, may it be a return, perhaps his final one, dude is in his eighties now, to the inimitable form of his best novel, Women and Men!)