Wednesday, March 27, 2013

L.S.U. - "Grace Shaker"

L.S.U. - Grace Shaker
1994, Alarma

1. Double
2. Kill Will
3. Blame
4. Thinkin'
5. Bad Disease
6. Grace
7. Shaker
8. Gift Taker
9. Freedom
10. Christ Saves

I've never been a huge L.S.U./Michael Knott person, as evidenced by the dearth of his stuff on my blog. But the stuff I like, I absolutely adore. Now my L.S.U. experience comes through Shaded Pain and The Grape Prophet, neither of which did anything for me for some reason. Grace Shaker, on the other hand, is an amazing, poignant album about weakness and grace. I would go so far as to say it is one of the finest and most essential Christian albums ever crafted. All ten songs are awesome and essential to the theme of the album. It's also filled with some of the best lyrics this side of Steve Taylor. "When the sick need a physician, sometimes the healthy come cuttin' instead of stitchin'" (from "Christ Saves") for example. I may be wrong but I think this is a concept album about alcoholism which makes sense as I believe bassist Brian Doidge has had some struggles in that area. This is definitely one of those albums every collector should have.

Useless Fact: "Double" also appeared on an album for Mike Knott's other band The Aunt Bettys.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Yankovic, "Weird Al" - "Even Worse"

Yankovic, "Weird Al" - Even Worse
1988, Volcano

1. Fat
2. Stuck in the Closet With Vanna White
3. (This Song's Just) Six Words Long
4. You Make Me
5. I Think I'm a Clone Now
6. Lasagna
7. Melanie
8. Alimony
9. Velvet Elvis
10. Twister
11. Good Old Days

Even Worse was my first "Weird Al" experience. Since Michael Jackson was HUGE at the time he provided a nice target for people like Weird Al. The video for "Fat" was hilarious and I was pretty amused with the rest of the songs back in the day. However, I actually think this is one of Weird Al's weaker discs as it doesn't quite seem to hold up as well as Off the Deep End or even Alapalooza. Granted, it's not that I think it's terrible, it's just not as good as I remember. There are some gems here though - I like "I Think I'm a Clone Now," "Lasagna," and "Melanie." I also like "Velvet Elvis" more now than I did when I was young. I don't think "Alimony" is particularly inspired nor is "(This Song's Just) Six Words Long." The Swirling Eddies would do a better version of that type of song years later. Not much more to say, really.

Useless Fact: I never realized until later that "Velvet Elvis" was supposed to be a style parody of The Police or that "Twister" was supposed to be a style parody of the Beastie Boys.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Jackson, Michael - "Bad 25th Anniversary"

Jackson, Michael - Bad 25th Anniversary
2012/1987, Sony

1. Bad
2. The Way You Make Me Feel
3. Speed Demon
4. Liberian Girl
5. Just Good Friends
6. Another Part of Me
7. Man in the Mirror
8. I Just Can't Stop Loving You
9. Dirty Diana
10. Smooth Criminal
11. Leave Me Alone

1. Don't Be Messin' 'Round
2. I'm So Blue
3. Song Groove (aka Abortion Papers)
4. Free
5. Price of Fame
6. Al Capone
7. Streetwalker
8. Fly Away
9. Todo Mi Amor Eres Tu
10. Je Ne Veux Pas La Fin De Nous
11. Bad (Remix)
12. Speed Demon (Remix)
13. Bad (Remix)

Thriller made Michael Jackson, the solo artist, into a superstar and Bad did nothing to diminish that star. It was wildly popular and spawned many, many singles. I think this is where the "Hee-hee! Woo!," "Sham-on," and famous crotch grabbing really started to manifest. It's funny after all these years to hear parodies of his style and then hear him do it in earnest. It's also funny to hear him whisper tenderly to an imaginary woman. Wow... there was a time when women ached for him. Ached. Like, sexually. Ruminate on that for awhile! This album also spawned a mini-movie type video for the title track. "Bad" featured a story in which Michael Jackson tried to prove to Wesley Snipes how hard core he was... with dancing. Honestly, though, I still think this is a darn fine record and the man does know how to write a catchy pop ditty. This was one of the first tapes I ever owned and it was a regular player. The extra tracks are okay but nothing too spectacular. Among them are a proto-version of "Smooth Criminal" called "Al Capone" that doesn't sound like the former at all. Also, another song referred to as "Abortion Papers" which, if I interpret the lyrics right, is actually against abortion. Didn't see that coming.

A lot of stuff happened during this period. I think this was the era of the infamous Pepsi commercial accident. We got the feature film Moonwalker in which Michael Jackson rescued kids from Joe Pesci and turns into a robot... or something. Also happening during this time? Captain EO. Let's talk about Captain EO for a minute. Captain EO was one of those 3D movie/ride things at Epcot Center. Michael Jackson was the titular captain. He and his "ragtag" band of misfits land on a planet that looks suspiciously like the Death Star and do battle with aliens that look suspiciously like Borg. Oh, and he fights them with dancing and music. It's on YouTube so go watch it because it is hilarious! Some pretty big names were attached to the whole project like Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, and Angelica Houston as the not-Borg Queen. Industrial Light and Magic did the effects so they were top notch for the era. At one time I taped a "making of" special off of Showtime or something and I watched it over and over. I always wanted to go see it but we never had the money to go so far as Disney World. I was obsessed with Captain EO and I don't really know why other than in my kid mind "space stuff" + "Michael Jackson" = awesomesauce! Of course, as an adult it is absolutely ridiculous.

Useless Fact: "Leave Me Alone" was not on the original cassette version of the album. I know this because "Leave Me Alone" was one of my favorite songs and I was sad that it wasn't on my tape. It was on the CD version though. Lucky jerks.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Don't worry...

I'm not dead! I actually have a few CDs to review, I'm just not quite ready to review them yet. Patience, gentle readers, patience. I've also been knee deep in Mass Effect 3 again. So that's why it's been so slow around here.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Celldweller - "Wish Upon a Blackstar"

Celldweller - Wish Upon a Blackstar
2012, FiXT

1. The Arrival
2. Unshakable
3. Blackstar
4. Eon
5. Louder Than Words
6. Memories of a Girl I Haven't Met
7. I Can't Wait
8. Gift For You
9. The Lucky One
10. The Seven Sisters
11. Birthright
12. I Makes No Difference Who We Are
13. The Best It's Gonna Get
14. So Long Sentiment
15. Tainted
16. Against the Tide

For those who don't know already Celldweller is comprised of one mister Klayton Scott (aka Scott Albert) of Circle of Dust fame. Circle of Dust put out three "official" albums with the last being Disengage. After that, Scott Albert changed his name and became Celldweller. Celldweller is a bit more commercial and not as heavy - leaning on the more dance/electronica side of things. I've never really given Celldweller a chance for whatever reason so I decided to pick up the latest and see if it did anything for me. Good news - it does do something for me! Yay! Klayton finds a way to add just about any kind of electronic music from Dub Step to industrial and make it work. The songs are quite entertaining. And while some of them occasionally sound like a Transformer throwing up, Klayton uses a lot of melody, clean vocals, and even live instruments. Is there such a thing as progressive industrial? Anyway, I really do enjoy this disc. I may have to pick up the debut someday.

According to Klayton, Wish Upon a Blackstar is a concept album. The concept being "be careful what you wish for." I'm not sure what the actual story is, if there is one. It seems like the first few tracks start telling a story about an alien invasion. Then the middle tracks talk about relationships (with lyrics that could have been on Argyle Park's Misguided), then the last few tracks seem to pick up the alien thing again. I don't really know.

Useless Fact: Work on Wish Upon a Blackstar began as early as 2004! Klayton would release chapters of two songs each as songs were done. Eventually they were collected last year and released as an album.