Album Anniversary

Album Anniversary: The Velvet Underground & Nico Turns 50

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There are certain albums that I was exposed to as a very young kid that forever changed my life. Growing up with parents that passed their music tastes down to me was beyond a gift. I was exposed to so many different great albums and bands. My mom and dad had some similar interests and some very different ones as well. My mom was a huge Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground fan so, naturally that got passed on to me. When I was around 3 or 4, I remember my mom putting on The Velvet Underground and Nico album. I was stunned at how different it sounded but, I loved it. Thus began my own obsession with The Velvet Underground.

I still remember the needle dropping on the record and “Sunday Morning” started. It was almost like a lullaby. Stunningly beautiful and so different. Then “I’m Waiting For The Man” comes in and changes the entire direction of the album. The story that Lou Reed conveys is so realistic. Granted when I was a little kid, I had no idea what he was talking about but, thankfully my mom explained it to me so I could understand it. As the album goes on songs like “Femme Fatale,” “Venus In Furs,” “Run Run Run,” “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” “There She Goes Again,” “The Black Angel’s Death Song,” and “European Son,” would strike a chord with me and so many other people. The magnitude of depth, storytelling, and the way the music hits is astonishing. Of course, the most famous song from the album “Heroin” is a classic among classics. There is a true beauty in the way the song plays out. The build up to the chaos is mind blowing. The way Lou Reed makes you feel like you are on the journey with him is unparalleled. Lou was a masterful writer and story teller. I was also a little bit obsessed with this song and would play it over and over. I even knew all the words to it, which was pretty odd and strange, especially for a young child.

The Velvet Underground were a band that inspired so many other bands. Generations of bands since the album was released in 1967, started bands because of this album. Lou Reed was a big inspiration to me as a writer. The way he was able to connect his life and stories into song is inspiring. The Velvet Underground were unique, different, and and their own thing. They were part artsy, part psychedelic, part rock, and part blues. They were the ultimate package and continued to be a great band with albums like White Light/White Heat and Loaded.  The Velvet Underground and Nico is now 50 years old and is still a great album that will stand the test of time for so many years to come.

I have to really thank my mom for getting me into such a wonderful band. The cars rides listening to music with both my mom and dad were always great. So many different bands were played and most of them are still constantly played to this day. So if you all have a chance to, go thank your parents for showing you their music and getting you into so many great bands.

 

The Velvet Underground & Nico:

 

Documentary on The Velvet Underground & Nico:

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Album Anniversary: The Doors- The Doors

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The Doors, one of my all time favorite bands, have just celebrated quite the milestone. Their debut album has just turned 50. Yes, I just said 50 years old. That would be 50 years of influence, inspiration and legacy. Over the years, The Doors self titled debut has sold over 20 million copies, been ranked as number 42 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time personally I think it should have been higher), inclusion in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry. They have also been credited as one of the pioneers of psychedelic rock. The album was recorded in 6 days at Sunset Sound studios in Hollywood with producer Paul Rothchild and engineer Bruce Botnick. Some interesting facts about the recording of the album is that the album was recorded on a four-track tape machine. The drums and bass (Larry Knechtel was brought in to add some extra “oomph” to the songs, as well as add another layer to Ray Manarek’s Fender Rhodes piano bass) on track one, guitar and organ on track two, vocals on track three, with the fourth being used for overdubs.

For me personally, The Doors first album is sacred to me. This was truly an “album.” Back in the 60’s and 70’s a lot of albums came with a bunch of filler songs, but there isn’t one ounce of filler on this album. The order of the songs beginning with “Break On Through (To The Other Side)” all the way to “The End” has a flow that breathes life into those listening. The “vibe” that the album puts out is astonishing. Jim Morrison’s words and voice strike a chord within, making you think and feel something deep in your consciousness. Robby Krieger’s style of guitar playing melded classical with jazz and rock. He perfectly complemented drummer John Densmore’s Latin and jazz feels. On a side note, I truly believe that John Densmore is one of the most underrated drummers of all time. And then there is Ray Manzarek who provided so many extra layers and melodies to The Doors’ songs.

The Doors will always be to me, one of the most important bands ever. Their legacy, mystique,  willingness to explore music and evolve, and words, are the works of legends. Their catalog alone, though only six albums, is uncompromising. Even their out there work on The Soft Parade and dabbles into more “pop” styled songs, can’t be shot down. The Doors were masters of their craft, instruments and words. There is a reason why their legacy will be everlasting.

So, let us all take a moment and celebrate a truly great band and album. Open your mind and take in the 44 minutes and 48 seconds of greatness that is The Doors first album.

 

The Doors- The Doors:

 

Album Anniversary: Temple Of The Dog

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It’s crazy to think that it’s been 25 years since Temple Of The Dog released their one and only album. For those that don’t know, this band and album was a tribute to singer Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone (The band before Pearl Jam). This is one of those albums that still stand the test of time. I remember first hearing “Say Hello To Heaven” and “Hunger Strike” and being totally in awe of how good those songs were. Not to mention the guitar solo by Mike McCready on “Reach Down.” Seriously, Mike is one of the most underrated guitar players in the last 25 years. The entire album is from start to finish tremendous. There are a few things I find very interesting about this album. One, that it was made and released before Soundgarden put out Bad Motor Finger. Two, “Say Hello 2 Heaven” and “Reach Down” were written by Cornell in direct response to Andrew Wood’s death. While the rest of the songs were written about various topics. This is one of those albums that should be in everyone’s collection. It’s just so damn good.

 

Temple Of The Dog:

Album Anniversary: Metallica- Master Of Puppets

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It’s pretty crazy to think that 30 years has passed since Metallica released Master Of Puppets. Not only that but in those 30 years, Master Of Puppets has only gotten stronger. It’s widely considered to be in the top 10 heavy metal albums of all time, inspired countless bands to start up, and those songs when played live get the crowds into quite a frenzy that most of the time you can hear the audience more than you can hear James Hetfield. I remember when I first heard Metallica. And Justice For All was the album that I heard first, but of course once I fell in love with the band, I knew I had to go after the other albums that they had. Master Of Puppets, has such great use of melody and heaviness. It takes the blueprint that the band laid out on Ride The Lightning (my personal favorite Metallica album) and expanded upon it by making it more epic. There isn’t one song on this album that doesn’t fit in to their structure. Each song has a flow to it that jumps out at you as the next one begins. I really don’t even need to keep rambling at this point. You all know that Master Of Puppets is great and deserves to be celebrated. A few years ago while touring the European festivals, Metallica performed the album in its entirety. That must have been one hell of an experience to see live. Maybe one day when Metallica tours the states again, they do it for all of us out here. So with all this in mind take an hour out of your day and blast Master Of Puppets!!!

 

Metallica- Master Of Puppets:

Album Anniversary: Darkest Hour- Undoing Ruin

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It’s really hard to believe that ten years has passed by this fast. It seems like just yesterday I was at the record store buying Darkest Hour’s Undoing Ruin. That album really cemented Darkest Hour as a force in the metal scene in that era. Not only that, but with the additional help of Devin Townsend on the production end, they were able to build on the sound of a lot of Swedish metal bands were doing like Soilwork and In Flames. Undoing Ruin also marked a point for the band in which they added some more melodic parts including cleaner vocals. Not to take away from their current lineup, but the five guys that appeared as the core lineup on many of Darkest Hour’s best albums made this band what it is. On the guitar side of things, Kris Norris and Mike Schleibaum complemented each other perfectly. Ryan Parrish and Paul Burnette were a beyond powerful rhythm section that pummeled through with tight precision. The album as a whole from start to finish was cohesive and tight. Each song flowed into the next without having any moments to deviate from the order. Songs like “With A Thousand Words To Say But One,” “Convalescence,” “Sound The Surrender,” “These Fevered Times,” and “Tranquil.” are standout tracks on their own, but in the context of the album as a whole, they are even better. Recently, Darkest Hour did a tour playing this album in its entirety. Sadly I missed that show and can only imagine how great it was. Here’s to hoping that this recent tour puts the band in the right mindset to release a new album soon that incorporates more of this type of sound.

Darkest Hour- Undoing Ruin:

Undoing Ruin Live (From Germany):

Unsung Masterpieces: Thrice- Vheissu

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Making a statement through music and art is always a complex thing to do. On one hand you know that this is the best and most fulfilling thing you can do. So much so that the direction and influence you feel at that point is going to define you. On the other hand, there is a sense that people out there won’t get it and thus give up on you. But for those that understand and really pick up on, know that this is the album that needed to be made and up till this point, it was only a matter of time. Ten years ago, Thrice released their masterpiece called Vheissu. At first it was met with a bit of hesitation but as time settled, the album began to take on a life of it’s own. Vheissu was a dramatic and experimental departure from the bands more post hardcore roots. Thrice took chances to make an album with more substance and meaning. Not to say that their previous releases weren’t up to par, but this album just had to push past all those to leave a mark. They took a chance with adding different elements including different instruments, time signatures, and the use of electronics. All of these things really helped to ensure a true artistic approach in the writing and recording process. There are so many standout songs on this album, it’s hard to pick the absolute best. My personal favorite “The Earth Will Shake,” is a perfect example of the bands progression and how well it worked out. “Red Sky,” “Atlantic,” “For Miles,” “Like Moths To Flame,” and “Image Of The Invisible” are all standout tracks on the album. The entire record as a whole is beyond anything in the bands catalog. Take a trip back ten years ago and listen to Vheissu again.

Thrice- Vheissu:

Album Anniversary: Garbage- Self Titled

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The mid 90’s were a very special time in music. So many ground breaking and influential albums came out and shaped the lives of my people.  On August 15, 1995, Garbage released their debut album. After spending time doing remixes and working on other peoples records, Butch Vig, Steve Marker and Duke Erickson decided they wanted to take the different instrumentation they had been doing and form a full fledged band. According to the way the story goes, Steve Marker was watching 120 Minutes on MTV, when he saw the music video of Angelfish’s “Suffocate Me.” He then showed the video to Duke and Butch and had their manager track Shirley Manson down. Shirley Manson met up with  Erikson, Marker and Vig for the first time in London. Due to Shirley’s other band on tour, Garbage was put on hold till after they finished their cycle. The three guys then attended Angelfish’s show in Chicago and Shirley was invite to audition for the group. The audition did not go well, but after talking with the guys while there and they found they had a similar taste in music. Shirley then called Garbage’s manager and asked to audition again.

The album itself is a blend of many different genres from punk, rock, techno, hip hop all with an incorporated pop tinge. There are so many great tracks like, “Vow,” “Stupid Girl,” “Only Happy When It Rains” and “Supervixen.”  Radio and MTV really picked up on the bands singles. To support the albums release, Garbage was the main support for The Smashing Pumpkins while on their tour for Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.

20 years into their career and Garbage still have a knack for creating great music. Their singles really still hold up well, as well as some of the deep cuts. The albums as a whole are a little iffy, but there is a real sense of pride within the bands as to what they have created. One thing I noticed while Listening back to all their albums, is that on Version 2.0, they really seemed to find their sound and hone it gracefully.

There is no doubt that all the members of the band are extremely talented, each bringing in something different to the table to create a great body of work. The one thing that always stood out to me about Garbage was Shirley Manson. She has a way about here that is part punk rock, alternative, and hypnotic. Her voice stands out amongst a lot of here peers in the entire genre.

Garbage is going on the road to celebrate their 20 year anniversary by playing their self titled debut in it’s entirety, as well as re releasing it with a slew of extras.

Garbage-Garbage:

Garbage EPK from first album:

By: Brian Lacy