i liked it better not stoned

HEAVY METAL was the soundtrack of my teenage life.  Hardcore punk/D-beat madness too and loads of Brit pop/alternative shoegazing blah blah blah.  But it always came back to METAL.  Not the pop metal glam stuff mind you, e.g. Motley Crue, Poison, Cinderella, and all that other crap.  No, I liked METAL straight-up: Sabbath, Maiden, Motorhead, Metallica, Slayer, Venom, Celtic Frost, and all the rest of the knuckle-dragging angry riff masters.  Big, brutal, epic, demonic, stoopid METAL.

I’m not proud.

Anyway, I caught Tenacious D’s infectiously silly and hilarious film Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny again this past weekend and… uh, it seemed funnier to me this time around.  Sure, I liked it enough the first time under the appropriate influences.  But this time it just seemed to click better for me.  It’s ridiculous and adolescent stuff, to be sure.  But so is METAL.  And I’m already on the record about that.

And for the record… Dio is better than Ozzy.

Advertisements

halloween music a go-go!

Ah, yes… horror and music.  They fit together like movies and popcorn, beer and pizza, and Japan and robots.  Ever since the opening bell echoed in the doom and gloom on Black Sabbath’s eponymous first LP, heavy metal bands have utilized the horror genre for lyrical and stylistic inspiration, not to mention earning blood buckets full of cash in the process.  It’s a potent mix perfectly fitted for monster-minded kids warped for rebellion and shock.  And though many metal bands today have upped the stakes for a bloodier, brutal, and more jaded age, the essential reasons why they do it remain the same.

It’s a blast.

But metalheads aren’t the only ones attracted to the darkside.  Whether it’s Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, the Cramps, or the surf/garage rock sounds of the Ghastly Ones, horror and music don’t always equal downtuned riffs.  The following videos are a few of my favorites and, I think, make for the perfect accompaniment for Halloween.

First up… the infamous Screaming Lord Sutch, groovy Brit garage rock circa 1964.  He’s most famous for his song “Jack the Ripper,” but I dig this one even more.  Lord Sutch, who was a representative for the National Teenage Party and founded the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, was influenced by Screamin’ Jay and likewise influenced the brilliant and totally underrated Alice Cooper.  Here’s Lord Sutch singing “Dracula’s Daughter.”

And speaking of Alice… he used to scare the hell out of me as a kid in the 1970s.  Between him and KISS, I couldn’t believe such demonic majesty was even legal!  Having said that… I couldn’t get enough of them.  Cooper pretty much dropped off my radar after the age of ten, as did KISS, but a few years ago I was seduced by those early Alice Cooper band albums (Pretties for You, Easy Action, Love it to Death, Killer, School’s Out, Billion Dollar Babies, Muscle of Love, and Welcome to My Nightmare) and struck by the sly word play, the melodies, irony, and the monstrous riffs.  Oh, yeah, there was also the imagery.  After all this time, Cooper’s outlandish stage theatrics still put a smile on my lips.  Here’s a clip from one of my all-time favorites, “The Ballad of Dwight Fry,” taken from Cooper’s ABC television special in 1975.

I love Blue Oyster Cult.  From their spacey, literary horror references (HP Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and many others) to the fact that science fiction/fantasy writers Michael Moorcock and John Shirley have both penned songs for the band, BOC is favorite around these parts.  They pretty much scored the soundtrack for my three months in Spain back in the spring.  How that happened, I couldn’t tell you.  Wisdom of the stars, I guess.  This is their 1977 song “Nosferatu” edited to clips from the film.  Good stuff.

The next clip is from the legendary and brilliant Roky Erickson, the father of psychedelic garage rock.  Erickson has had more tragedy, insanity, and god knows what else happen to him.  But he’s still alive and touring… and from all accounts healthy.  But there was a time, I think before he thought he was an alien, that he thought he was the Devil.  He might have written this song around that time.  Bad time… but great song.  And if you ever walk by my cottage in the middle of the night… you might hear me or Lynda singing it at the top of our lungs.

God how I loved the Misfits when I was in my mid-to-late teens.  I still love them.  Best horror punk band ever.  Just don’t think what Glenn Danzig turned into post-Misfits or Samhain… simply remember what he was.  Here, the band performs “Night of the Living Dead.”  Hail, horror hail.

And then there was Fantomas.  Named after the French anarchist pulp hero, this avant-garde band is one of the strangest, most exciting, and hilariously talented groups around.  A mix of grinding metal, black metal howls, John Zorn mischief jazz, and outrageous vocalizations courtesy of Mike Patton, Fantomas is a wellspring of imagination and creativity.  This track, “Der Golem,” is from their second full-length The Director’s Cut, an album of film covers ranging from The Godfather to Rosemary’s Baby to Charade.  It’s masterful stuff and has to be heard to be believed.

the traitor klaus and me

2008_03250034.jpg

I’ve been guilty of spreading aural mayhem via mix tapes and discs to unsuspecting friends in the past. The “gifts” were never intended as unprovoked attacks or as some latent resentment finally manifesting itself in the guise of discordant electronic assaults, primitive black metal howls, Japanese noise punk, or stabs of 1980s hardcore. To balance out the aggression, I’d usually toss in some Italian film library tracks or some Eno or some “apocalyptic folk” or some Boyd Rice spoken word stuff to go with the misanthropy and martinis.

To no one’s surprise but my own, I rarely received requests for more tapes. I was even accused of attempted assault in one case. So, I quit making them. I took my finger off the record button.

Last year, I changed my tack when I made a mix disc for a long lost friend who had reemerged into my life. Wanting to document in impressionistic hues the last twenty years of my life (I hadn’t been in contact with this person for that long), I collected a wide range of music that, I thought, perfectly charted the highs and lows of my interior life sans the aural mayhem. Darkness as a theme was certainly not denied entrance, but it wouldn’t dominate (because that would be a lie) as it had in those other discs. The music this time around would actually be intended to be enjoyed, listened to, and would warrant repeat sessions.

One of my earlier victims had long promised me one of his own mix disc creations. I was never sure whether to be thankful, afraid, or resigned to the cold dish of you-know-what awaiting me. But as the weeks passed into months and then years, I realized that I was going to make it out of America with ear drums intact, spinal column in place, and ego still propped up.

Just days before I left my hometown (yet again), my friend brought me a package. This was no simple one disc toss off. This was an eleven disc boxed set. This was a gift, a touching memento, this was… demented. On the train back east, I pretended it didn’t exist. On the flight to Dublin, I vaguely remembered that my companion had it nestled securely inside her bag. I pulled out the monstrosity while in the west of Ireland, and marveled at each thematically structured disc:

Greatest Ballads of Porn: Matthew Sweet, The Stones, Neko Case, The Kinks, The Frogs, The Beach Boys, Warren Zevon, Otis Redding, among others.

Some of the Best Songs in the Lower Half of My Collection (S-Z): Tom Waits, Frank Zappa, Todd Rundgren, Zevon, XTC, The Vaselines, Television, Tenacious D, among others.

Fake Wes Anderson Imitation Soundtrack Made Cheaply and Carelessly for the Movie…: The Kinks, Richard and Linda Thompson, Simon and Garfunkel, Sleater-Kinney, Nilsson, The Soft Boys, among others.

Budget Makeout CD: Big Black, Mastodon, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Naked City, Rush, Queens of the Stone Age, among others.

Schlochkenmachen: Sabbath, The Boredoms, Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, Styx, Beck, Dylan, Captain Beefheart, among others.

Vegetarian Skinheads Getting Pissed Viddying Oprah at the Pub; a Musical Odyssey: The Frogs, The Beatles, Patti Smith, Cheap Trick, The Buzzcocks, Elmore James, The Flaming Lips, The Handsome Family, among others.

The Traitor Klaus “What is Friend?”: Big Star, The Feelies, Gang of Four, Sonic Youth, The Black Keys, Gary Numan, The Clash, Elvis Costello, Neil Young, Ennio Morricone, among others.

The beauty of the selections was staggering. Also included were two discs of Blue Oyster Cult recordings (we share a love), a disc of Zeppelin, and a disc of jazz (Davis, Coltrane, Coleman). When I finally surrendered to the majesty of the collection, I can’t put into words how wondrous the journey was. It’s still going on….

What is friend? Oh yes, my comrades, I think I know the answer to that one.