Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Sharing my favorite songs of the year on Facebook

Been on a bit of a break again between holiday activities and work. I'll have some new reviews coming soon, but in the meantime, I'm sharing some of my favorite songs of the year on the Facebook page as I prepare to do my annual best list. Give the page a like or check out the feed below on the right to see my picks. Thanks.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sunday Sabbath: "Hand of Doom," from Paranoid (1970)

As much as I love the rest of the record, this may be my favorite song on Paranoid. I don’t know that there’s ever been a better song written about the power and hopelessness of drug addiction.

It starts out with that dark and mysterious bass lick from Geezer Butler, and as always, Bill Ward’s jazzy beats lock in perfectly with it to create the mood. Enter Ozzy, moaning out the lyrics in a delivery that’s perfect for the subject matter of the song. To my ears, it’s bleak, even by Black Sabbath standards, then we get the punctuating explosion of sound at the end of each verse, like a mini-climax – perhaps the brief hit of the drug hitting the subject’s veins that soon returns to the low of the original bass and vocal.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sunday Sabbath: "Electric Funeral," from Paranoid (1970)

Today, we move on to side 2 of Paranoid. Yes, I’m dating myself, but “Electric Funeral” was the first song on side 2 for a long time for me before it became track 5.

And what a way to kick of the second half of this album. Tony Iommi delivers that huge, warbling wah-wah lick, another one of those instantly recognizable riffs. There’s something particularly sinister and ominous about this one, perfect for the lyrical content, a bleak picture of the aftermath of a nuclear war.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Saturday Night Special: Hellbound Glory, "Either Way We're Fucked"

So, if you’ve read my stuff for long, you know I’m not a huge fan of overt politics in music, and I try to keep them off my blogs, too. But I simply couldn’t think of a better song for this week’s election, in which the two major parties took a field of about 20 candidates that most people didn’t really like and winnowed them down to the two worst. Go USA!

Of course, this tune off my personal favorite Hellbound Glory album isn’t at all political in nature. Instead it features songwriter Leroy Virgil’s typically dark sense of humor as it lays out the story of an unhappy relationship in which the two parties decide that “it’s better to stay together, ‘cause either way we’re fucked.”

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Metal Meltdowns: Celtic Frost, "Cold Lake"

In the mid-1980s, Celtic Frost, along with contemporaries like Venom, Hellhammer and Bathory, was one of the pioneering bands of what would become death and black metal. The band’s first two albums – Morbid Tales and To Mega Therion – helped lay down the template for what those styles would become.

Their third outing, Into the Pandemonium, marked a change in style, opening with an unlikely cover of Wall of Voodoo’s “Mexican Radio,” and incorporating many new and jarring influences for fans. But for all its strangeness, that record still doesn’t draw the ire of metal fans like 1988’s Cold Lake.

Frontman/founder Tom Warrior had planned to end the band, but was convinced to continue with an entirely new lineup … and an entirely new sound.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Something Borrowed: "Feed My Frankenstein," Beasto Blanco/Alice Cooper

The apples don’t fall far from the tree on the latest release from Beasto Blanco. The leader of the band is Alice Cooper bassist Chuck Garric, and the female vocals are provided by Calico Cooper, who just happens to be Alice’s daughter. So, I wonder how they got the rights to cover an Alice song?

All jokes aside, this is an interesting take on a song that’s not one of my favorites in the Alice catalog.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sunday Sabbath: "Iron Man," from Paranoid (1970)

Is there a more important guitar riff in the history of heavy metal than the main riff from “Iron Man?” If there is, I certainly can’t think of it.

There’s also probably not a metal riff that’s more recognizable among people who are not fans of the music. Hum those first notes – duuum-duuum-dum-dum-dum – just about anywhere, and I’ll bet there’s someone standing around who can finish it.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Saturday Night Special: Raphael Saadiq, "Angel"

So this installment represents two firsts for this blog – an R&B song, and apparently, a fictional song.

Of course, the song is not entirely fictional, at least a part of it exists. But after hearing it on the “Luke Cage” premiere on Netflix, I went out in search of it, only to discover that it doesn’t exist. It’s apparently something that Saadiq recorded for his cameo on the show. It’s not even on the soundtrack for the series, a fact lamented by several commenters on the videos that I found.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sunday Sabbath: "Planet Caravan," from Paranoid (1970)

If ever there’s been a soundtrack for the acid trip, it’s probably the third song from Paranoid – “Planet Caravan.” When Pantera covered it for their Far Beyond Driven album, they took that feel even further, creating a trippy animated video that suited the song well. As much as I liked Dimebag’s performance on that version, though, the original still rules.

Though we’d heard psychedelic sounds on the band’s first album, “Planet Caravan” was the first hint of it that we heard on Paranoid, but it’s a full dose.