Category Archives: Music Reviews

My Favorite Albums: Stone Temple Pilots- Purple

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This series highlights some of my favorite albums and includes a quick review and some of my favorite highlights of the records.

Stone Temple Pilots-Purple (1994)

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The Stone Temple Pilots are an interesting band. They are often lumped in with the Grunge scene, but they weren’t from Seattle and their music was in many ways different than what the scene’s biggest bands were producing. Obviously there were a lot of similarities between the biggest so-called Grunge bands and STP, most notably the loud distorted guitars and troubled lead singer. STP released their first record in 1992 after being signed by Atlantic records. The album was an immediate success, debuting at number three on the Billboard 200 charts, but the band faced a fair share of criticism that suggested that they were just Grunge imitators. Their debut record, Core featured heavy tunes as well as some slower ones that would continue to be some of the biggest and most recognizable hits of their careers. After opening for bands like Rage Against The machine And Megadeth the band would headline their own tour, release an MTV Unplugged special and win a Grammy for their song, Plush. Later in the spring of 1994 the band began work on their sophomore album, purple. The record featured a similar sound to their debut, but also went in some other directions with songs that were much more layered and even hinted at some psychedelic influences. The record would debut at number one and sell over six million copies to date.

I had first discovered the band like most everyone else by seeing their early videos on MTV. I was already into bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains and their sound instantly caught my ear. Their first record was more comparable to Alice In Chains than the other big bands of the era with a little bit of a heavier sound and edge to them through the DeLeo brothers’ heavy guitar and drum sound and Scott’s dark lyrics. As soon as Purple was released in August of 1994 I was eager to get my hands on it. The album was released a couple months before my 15th birthday and once I saved enough money up I stopped by the now defunct chain store Sun Television And Appliances which inexplicably also sold CDs. I picked up the CD which was called Purple, but didn’t actually have the word on the album art, at least in English. Instead there was a baby riding a dragon on the cover and a delicious looking cake on the back that said “12 Gracious Melodies”.

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The album is loaded with really great songs that I played on repeat for years. While songs like The Big Empty Interstate Love song and Vaseline were huge hits for the band, some of my favorites were the B-sides to those songs. Songs like Army Ants, Silvergun Superman and Lounge Fly that were heaver upbeat numbers that continued on what the band offered on Core. Other songs showed the diverse influences of the band with slower, more Alt Rock or country influences like Big Empty and Interstate Love Song. The album finishes off with my favorite track on the album, Kitchenware And Candybars, which is actually about Scott and a woman he was with deciding to have and Abortion. At the time this album was on heavy rotation in my room I was oblivious to the actually meaning behind the lyrics, but I always singled that track out as my favorite on the record. At the conclusion of that song there is a brief silence and then the great hidden track on the record. Even though the back of the album said 12 gracious melodies, there was only 11 tracks on the CD, but as with many albums of that era, it contained a hidden track. In this case it was a retro style lounge song sung by Richard Peterson called My Second Album. In the song Richard explains that the 12 gracious melodies that the back cover referenced also included that number and is a highlight of the album.

Hits:
Big Empty
Interstate Love Song
Vaseline
Must Listen:

Kitchenware And Candy Bars
12 Gracious Melodies (Hidden Track)
Army Ants
 

 

 

POP Clips: Number One Song This Week 1943-2013

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This week on the Pop Clips edition of the podcast the guys are doing something a little different. Pop music has certainly changed in the past 70 years and what better way to prove this than listening to the number one song from the past 6 or 7 decades? Starting with 1943, the guys listen to the number one song from each year.

Number One Songs:

1943: “Paper DollMills Brothers 8 weeks

1953: “Rags to RichesTony Bennett 6 weeks

1963: “I’m Leaving It Up to YouDale & Grace

1973: “PhotographRingo Starr

1983:”All Night Long (All Night)Lionel Richie

1993: I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)Meat Loaf

2003:”Baby Boy” Beyoncé featuring Sean Paul

2013:”RoyalsLorde

Play

The 10 Saddest Songs Ever

sad
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Okay, I’ll admit that this subject is completely subjective. Songs can have different meaning for different people depending on the context in which they first heard the song. The same song can hold different meaning for two different people just because of the events that surround a person when that song sticks to the part of the brain that makes us associate songs and smells and emotions with a particular person, place or time in our lives. With that said I have come up with a list of songs that to me will almost guarantee a nice bout of depression. Listen and have a good cry. Don’t be afraid, being sad means you are alive. At least for now.

10. I’ve Got A Name-Jim Croce

This song is one of a couple songs that have a lot more to do with the context of song than with he actual lyrics or music of the song. In the early seventies Jim Croce had a number of hit, which included Time In A Bottle and Operator (That’s Not The Way It Feels), which both would be solid candidates for this list, but neither would be released under the same context as I’ve Got A Name.  On September 20th 1973 Jim died in a plane crash while out on tour. The very next day I’ve Got A Name was released as the first single of the album of the same name. A song that was about the rise of fame and importance and  ultimately a legacy after one dies, the events surrounding the release of the song could not have been more appropriate. The song would be a top ten hit and a lasting legacy for a gifted singer and songwriter who left us way too soon at the age of 30

9. Your Ex- Lover Is Dead- Stars

Just a simple song that perfectly encapsulates how our relationships are often fleeting and the powerful emotions we feel for someone will eventually fade away to the point where we no longer recognize it as something we personally experienced or felt and the person becomes a stranger or a ghost and will eventually also fade from our memories.

8. Honey- Bobby Goldsboro
A simple song about a man who tragically lost his wife. The melancholy lyrics and soothing orchestration convey the sadness of the song’s narrator perfectly. The song was released in 1968 and reached number one on the Billboard singles chart as well as the Country chart.

 

7. Baby Blue- Badfinger

This song may have not made this list a few months ago, but the finale of the great TV series Breaking Bad used it in the finale scene of the series and it was both the end of the main character of the show and the end of us as viewers having a great show to watch. It also makes the cut because the two main song writers of the band committed suicide in the decade that followed the release of this song. It is one of the saddest stories in Rock N’ Roll and this is one of the saddest songs, which lyrically is once again about the end of a relationship.


6.Blood- The Middle East

A song about life and death and love and everything in between. I once listened to this song on the dreariest of days and it was on my mind for days.

5. Sia- Breath Me

Another song that when put in the context of a show finale is even more powerful. This song was used in the final scene of the HBO show Six Feet Under. It was a show about death and ultimately about life. In what i consider one of the best finales of all time the finale scene takes us on a journey to the end of all of the main characters lives with this song as the background. When I first watched this I was depressed for weeks.

4. Cupid’s Trick- Elliott Smith

I could have put a number of songs by Elliott Smith on this list. One could easily compile a list of the saddest Elliott Smith songs. The guy was probably one of the saddest people to ever live and how his life ended emphasized his tortured soul.

3. Without You- Harry Nillson

This song was written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans of Badfinger, who we heard earlier on this list. Both of the talented writers would end their own lives and put a dark cloud over the entire catalogue. They released this song in 1970 on the album No Dice. While it was a great song, Harry Nilsson would take it to another level a year later when he recorded the song for his album Nilsson Schmilsson. Mariah Carey also recorded a version of the song but I believe Harry’s is the best. Even Mariah Carey’s powerful voice could not compete with the raw and emotional pain that can be heard in the Nilsson version.

 

2. Stay With Me Baby- Lorraine Ellison

As far as raw emotion goes, it doesn’t get much better than this. Released in 1966, Lorraine Ellison belts out one of the most powerful performances in the history of recorded music. You can feel the pain and emotion in her voice with the horn section crying along with her in the background.

1. Day Is Done- Nick Drake

As far as sad singers go, there is probably none sadder than Nick Drake. In 1969 he recorded his first album and by by 1972 he had three completed albums but all were commercial failures, each of them selling around 5000 copies. Nick was a quiet and withdrawn individual who was reluctant to give any press or perform live which didn’t help his initial album sales. He grew more and more depressed as time wore on and would die of a drug overdose at his parents home in 1974 at the age of 26. He never saw any musical success in his life time but in the years since his songwriting and small discography has become very influential. There is said to be no known video footage of an adult Nick Drake. We are only left with still pictures and three fantastic records. The song Day Is Done is a particularly dark song about the changing of the seasons and how all of the moments of our lives are quickly slipping by us. No matter how successful or not you are, when the day (your life) is done, there is not much you ca do about it.

 

 

Skeeter Davis Vs. Donna Fargo A Contrast Of Emotions

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In a contrast of emotions Skeeter Davis and Donna Fargo record two songs that have almost the exact opposite sentiment.

Skeeter Davis- End Of The World

For poor Skeeter the world has ended. Her lover has left her and she is left to wonder how the world can go on when her life is seemingly over as she knows it. In the song she talks about waking up in the morning , still in pain, not understanding how she can be in so much pain and the rest of the world seems to go on without a care for her plight. “The End of the World” was written by Arthur Kent and Sylvia Dee and released as a single by Skeeter in 1962. It would peak at #2 on the US Hot 100 and #2 on the hot Country singles chart making it a certified crossover hit. Skeeter Davis whose real name was Mary Penick died in 204 at the age of 72.

Donna Fargo- The Happiest Girl In The USA

On the other hand Donna Fargo wakes up in the morning with a completely different tune. In this song the singer is ecstatic that she gets to wake up with the greatest man in the world. Each morning she wakes up with the sun shining and a smile on her face because of the man that is all hers. Ten years after Skeeter sang about her world collapsing around her as she lost the love of her life, Donna seemingly rubs it in by bragging about how all her dreams came true and she found a man that she will love forever and each day is better than the last while he is by her side. Happiest Girl was written and recorded by Donna Fargo who probably listened to Skeeter and laughed at her great misfortune while she put her loving arms around the strong, handsome man who hadn’t left her and made her claim that she is the happiest girl in the whole USA. Although, this fact has not been proven to be true and it is up to debate whether or not there are other woman or girls just as or more happy than she is. It is also unclear if the character in the song remains this happy 41 years later. I imagine there were at least a few rough patches since then. Happiest Girl was released in 1972 and was a Number one country single and peaked at #11 on the hot 100 chart. At least Skeeter has the better charting record to cry on. Donna is still alive and well  and performing to this day. the song was featured in a Nike commercial congratulating the 2008 Olympic softball team, who had earned a silver medal in that year’s games. It was also covered by Lana Del Ray.