The Cincinnati Gardens was a gorgeous wreck of a multi-purpose hall, all crumbling ramps and parking garage architecture, redolent with the faint scent of circuses past. It was the “B” venue at the time; if a band couldn’t sell out the mighty Riverfront Coliseum, then they were relegated to the Gardens. Mid-South and Mid-Atlantic Wrestling came there, and I saw one of the greatest matches of my life there when I was eight (Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, for the curious). The Gardens was also the site of the tragic concert by The Who, where nine people were trampled to death in a rush to get to the festival seating on the floor. The band wasn’t told about the deaths until afterwards. I was glad not to know anyone who went to that show, and the whole region was deeply affected and saddened by that event.
They talked about banning rock and roll from the Gardens after that, but that seemed too ham-fisted, even for Cincinnati, the town that later on would recoil in horror at something as mildly raunchy as a Robert Mapplethorpe photo exhibit. Instead, they banned festival seating, choosing to reserve all seats, including the ones on the floor. It was a good move, even though I was never able to afford seats so close to the stage, those magic spots where you could reach up and touch whatever god happened to be performing that night.
The first big rock concert I saw was at the Gardens, and it was a damned fine one. I saw Queen.
If you think Dead Ghosts sounds like a Goth band name, you’d be right, but you’d be dead wrong about their sound. This is old school, straight-up party music. The only thing better than listening to this album at a party (nighttime, outside, backyard, torches to ward off mosquitoes) would be having the band actually play live at your party.
In other words, you have to dance to this music. There is no other way.
You’ll Never Walk Alone opens with the wonderfully titled, warped shimmy of “Glitter Death” and the clever lyric: tell all of your friends that this is the end/of all these stupid trends.
The first six tracks on the album weave in and out of each other so slyly they all seem like one glorious, extended song. A song that’s a three-dimensional rainbow tapestry of sonic bliss.
Burnt Ones recalls the psychedelia of both early Pink Floyd and T. Rex with more than a dusting of the latter’s primo glam rawk stomp, and lyrics to match (sample: Just like a sweater how you’re so together). At first those lyrics won’t make a whole lot of sense, but once you get into their groove, the crazy visuals they describe—”hypnotized and fried, licking glass perfumes”–will nag at you until you start to feel like you understand on some subterranean, emotional level.
By Melissa B.
I’m a nostalgist. What I love about reissues is hearing a song I’ve forgotten entirely about. In a beat, I’m transported to the back-backseat of my parents’ station wagon, listening to KTTS on the radio. The reissue of Marty Robbins’s El Paso City/Adios Amigo took me right back to that station wagon.
Except for Kelso in that one episode of That ’70s Show, there is no one whose looks cannot be greatly improved by the addition of a leather jacket. Now, I’m not trying to piss off any animal rights groups by saying that. I know there are leather alternatives. I don’t know what animal pleather comes from, though, and vinyl is horrible to have wrapped around your package on a hot Tennessee afternoon. Therefore, it is with leather we remain.
It’s difficult to talk about what the new Big Country album is without talking about what it isn’t. The Journey is the first album from the band in 14 years. It’s also the first studio album since original lead singer/songwriter Stuart Adamson took his own life in a hotel room in Hawaii in December of 2001. Bouncing back from a blow like that is difficult for any band. Look at the shambles INXS became after Michael Hutchence passed out and away.
Fronting Big Country now is Mike Peters, singer/songwriter for The Alarm, well-remembered for Eighties hits like “Sixty-Eight Guns” and “The Stand.” There are similarities between Peters and Adamson as songwriters. Adamson and Peters both created songs of epic scope, real sweepers. Listen to the guitars masquerading as bagpipes on “In a Big Country” and feel the cold grass of Scotland under your feet. Listen to the sweet high guitar trills of “Rain in the Summertime” and you really can almost feel the rain on your face.
Replacing Adamson’s vision with Peters’s panoramic view seems like the perfect match.
By Melissa B.
Kermit Ruffins co-founded The Rebirth Brass Band in high school. The Rebirth Brass Band revitalized the brass band community in New Orleans, and their success rejuvenated New Orleans’s Second Line culture. Kermit Ruffins is a great ambassador for that aspect of New Orleans. His extraordinarily distinctive, raspy voice paired with his virtuoso trumpet playing gives the casual listener a glimpse into the broad spectrum of New Orleans music.
His newest record We Partyin’ Traditional Style is like a time capsule, taking 20th-century classics and skewing them his own personal way and in the process, making an incredibly fun record. Partyin’ in the title? Not a coincidence.
On Magic Trix, Xenia Rubinos sounds like a radio caught between two frequencies. The first station carries brassy 1930s show tunes, a capella field recordings of folk songs, multi-tracked choruses, and lushly melodic whispered confessions. On the other, psychedelic keyboard freakouts, skittering drums, thumping hardcore declarations, and a cacophony of characters rule the day. Binding the disparate styles together is a soupçon of feedback from an analog keyboard and Rubinos’s force of nature vocals.
Eighties metal was nothing if not hyper-sexualized, as men who looked like women objectified females as simply holes to be filled. Were they glorifying bisexuality or simply echoing the glam rock stylings of Bryan Ferry and David Bowie? Were any of them smart enough to make that kind of conscious decision? It’s hard to say.
The sight of longhaired bottle-blonde men wearing mascara and codpieces was strange enough. Hearing them spout metaphorical lyrics about their sexual conquests was difficult to take seriously. Who can forget Warrant’s immortal paean to sensual cooking, “Cherry Pie?” Def Leppard wanted ladies to pour some sugar on them, which I never found to be attractive at all. That just sounds messy.
Leave it to a band from Texas to be straightforward about the whole business. There was no make-up to be found on these guys and certainly no beating around the bush (snicker). Dangerous Toys, in the span of one song, both undermined and cemented the comically retarded machismo of the hair metal era.
In the May 1989 issue of SPIN, born-again Christian evangelist Bob Larson followed the band Slayer on tour and presented his account in an article called “Desperately Seeking Satan.” By the end, Larson determined that Slayer’s “root of evil” was “rock’n'roll stardom” and that their “act of iniquity” was not with Satan, but with the “Billboard charts and T-shirt sales.” Still, he prayed that “both their eternal and artistic souls” would be saved.
Almost 25 years later, musician and filmmaker Justin Ludwig decided to follow two bands from perhaps an even more mystifying and misunderstood genre of music: Christian hardcore. As Ludwig explains in the beginning of the documentary, hardcore music helped him to break free from the shackles of organized religion and the oppression of conformist thinking.
If ChristCORE were a fictional Hollywood story, it’s easy to imagine that by the end, Ludwig will recant and become a born-again Christian. But, this is real life, or at least the documentary film version.