Sunday, November 11, 2007

More Musical Musings

Usually, as you can tell from some of my long-winded posts, I’m a soundtrack guy. I love movie music. John Powell, Basil Poledouris and John Williams are household names at the ‘Ringo Ranch. But there was a time when I actually listened to the radio and kept up with the Billboard Top 40. Lately, I’ve been revisiting some of my favorite music from the past and it’s been a lot of fun. To help alleviate the sheer boredom of driving back and forth to Durham each weekend (and to cheer myself up), I’d been listening to Mike’s impressive collection of stand-up comic albums. They didn’t last long, though, and I had to find something else. So I started digging through some old CDs and came up with some real gems.

Back in college, I was a huge Guns ‘n’ Roses fan. Mike had bought APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION on a whim as we were heading out of town at the start of the school year and as we listened to it on the trip to VCU (along with my purchase, AC/DC’s WHO MADE WHO…um, technically a soundtrack) we were stunned. We’d never heard anything like it and I was hooked. Later, when I moved to Norfolk to start a video production company with a friend, I was flat broke. When my parents sent me some money for my birthday, I went out and bought, not food, but G’n’R’s USE YOUR ILLUSION I and II. Two-and-a-half hours of Axl Rose and the gang at their best…and worst. While APPETITE was raw and energetic, ILLUSION was like a really talented kid finally getting to play with some big expensive toys and having the time of his life. The band was criticized for “selling out” by using orchestral arrangements and backup singers but I say eff ‘em. Any time you can find a metal head who knows how to write music for an orchestra, I’m plunking down my scratch. When I got lost trying to make my way from Norfolk to Fayetteville, NC for Suzanne’s Grandmother’s wedding, UYI kept me from losing my mind. It’s been great reacquainting myself with this album.

One of our college roommates was a guy from Southeast Virginia coal country named Eric Ritchie. He was great guy but he was like nobody I’d ever met. He had long curly blonde hair, a goatee and spoke with the thickest southern accent I’d ever encountered. He also had an incredible collection of CDs from every obscure metal band you could think of…Voivod, the Misfits, Celtic Frost…and he treated them with reverence. He would sneak off every once in a while to see these bands in concert when we never knew they were coming to town. And this was back in the days before the Internet. It was like he was tuned in to some psychic metal-head network. Frankly, it all sounded the same to me. But, with my tastes, I’m not about to criticize. One album he had, though, I really liked. He played Metallica’s AND JUSTICE FOR ALL for us one day and I was an instant convert. I immediately went out and bought two or three of their previous albums and wore them out. That started a decade-long obsession with the band that, sadly, ended when we saw their abysmally bad live concert in Virginia Beach a few years ago. But AND JUSTICE FOR ALL remains a high point in my musical memory.

Finally, as I’ve been cruising iTunes, looking for more albums lost in the mists of time, I came across two that really got my blood pumping:

Joe Satriani’s FLYING IN A BLUE DREAM. I know what you’re thinking. Joe Satriani? Are you kidding? Well, Suzanne got a couple of his albums recently from a vendor and I started listening to them. They’re okay but they didn’t evoke the feelings I got from BLUE DREAM, so I listened to the samples on iTunes to see what I was missing. Holy cow, that brought back memories. Back in college, all I knew of the guy was that he’d used the Silver Surfer on one of his album covers. My girlfriend at the time was pestering me to go see him in concert as he was appearing on campus to promote the release of BLUE DREAM. I put up a fight because the concert was during my late-night Animation class and I was already on thin ice with the instructor. Plus, I hated spending all that money on somebody I’d never heard. She kept at it, though and I figured if I didn’t want her going with the disgustingly handsome guy in her Chemistry class that was always showing up where we were, I’d better cave in. So we went. Oh, man, was that an amazing concert. Turns out that, though she hated the music I listened to, she knew Satriani was mostly instrumental and she was trying to meet me halfway. I’ve only seen a handful of concerts in my life but that ranks in the top two or three. I immediately went out and bought the album and played it over and over. It’s been about fifteen years since I last listened to it so, when I started clicking on the tracks on iTunes, I felt like a young buck again.

David Lee Roth’s SKYSCRAPER. This was another of Mike’s albums in college. At this point, our class schedules had really started to go off in different directions and he was letting me use his car for my night classes. SKYSCRAPER was in his tape player and, while I busied myself with burning out his clutch, I played that sucker over and over. Listening to it on iTunes, I’m not sure what it was that appealed to me so much. But hearing it again gave me a pleasant feeling, so I can’t complain.

There were others, like Queen’s A KIND OF MAGIC, ZZ Top’s ELIMINATOR and Robert Cray’s STRONG PERSUADER, but I’ve embarrassed myself enough and this post has gone waaaay longer than I’d intended. Later!

8 comments:

craig rousseau said...

oh man , i haven't listened to "use your illusion - I and II" in AGES either (heck, the cassette tapes are in a box in the basement i think)...

but my old roommate in college was (and still is) a crazy talented guitarist (now he's teaching at berklee college of music in boston as well as playing as a session player and recording his own stuff), and practically wore out those satriani cds... i ended up getting a few on itunes last year on a whim.

funny, we're just talking about music we're listening to over on the new 'haps message board... (have you been lurking? come on over and play)

Heywood Jablomie said...

joe satriani, wow haven't heard him in a while!! he's fantastic, although i was always more into steve vai as far as that kind of stuff goes. i still for the most part though listen to all the bands i liked as a kid, but my first into to the metal scene was iron maiden and they still tot his day kick my ass everytime they release a new album.

Matt Wieringo said...

If I'm not mistaken, Heywood, Steve Vai was the guitarist on that SKYSCRAPER album. Great stuff.

Craig, I'm on my way there now!

Heywood Jablomie said...

yes actually he was. he was also on dave's first album, Eat'em and Smile I believe it was called. crazy stuff cuz he did a lot of sound effects with the guitar.

Leaf said...

G 'N R were the first concert I ever went to. It was during their "Use Your Illusion" tour, I believe. Gotta say that my fave album of theirs was "Lies." May have to hunt that album down now.

emilio said...

At the risk of sounding dumb, I don't know if I've heard "use your illusion" before.
I've heard different GnR, but don't know what album they're from. I'll be checking on that.

I listen to alot of different sounds myself, including soundtracks.
I've recently dicovered that a local radio station changed their format to Classical and have been listening to that.

I have a couple of Satriani CDs myself and I admit that the Silver Surfer cover is what got me to even listen to see if I liked it.
Then the heavy guitars with NO lyrics got me to check out some of his other CDs.

And finally...
This weekend at the Movie Theater I saw this video for "Civilian Soldier" by 3 Doors Down. I thought it was pretty cool.
It was an Ad for The National Guard and at the end they said you can download the song for free @ the Guard's Website.

McGill said...

I missed seeing GnR in concert, but back in the 90's when Metallica put out the Black album, they toured with a slew of bands...saw them at the World Theatre outside Chicago with Suicidal Tendacies, and Danzig opening for them, they rocked...ten rows away from the front and I thought James flipped me off from the stage...turns out the guy in front of me was flipping him off...
Dream Theatre had a good sound when I jammed them...
Stevie Ray Vaughn was cool...
Megadeath, & Anthrax rocked...
I grew up on my bro's coat tails, so I liked all heavy metal, old school like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Dio, Black Sabbath, Ozzy( with Randy Rhodes-awesome!)...
Then as a teen, grunge and rap dominated...so I'll throw some of that stuff onto the pile every once in a while...but the roots are heavily soiled in metal...

Casey Jones said...

Mike was still listening to A Kind of Magic during my years at the studio. He loved that album. What I remember the most was the total fixation he had with the Annie Lennox Medusa CD. He had her cover of Train in Vain on "repeat" for a week! : )

Axl was the last great Rock Star. I'm still waiting for the new GNR album... Chinese Democracy. One day...