If Richard Pryor Fronted a Metal Band

One of the albums I have been listening to is the new Body Count album, Manslaughter.   This is a ridiculously absurd album.  By lead singer Ice-T’s own admission this album is grindhouse.  It is meant to be over-the-top.   Songs about torture, black voodoo sex, and murder permeate the album.  However, this is absurdity with a purpose:  The record is meant to show how meaningless the modern recording industry is.  This album is a comedy record as well as a heavy metal record.  It is more laugh out loud funny than it is offensive, and that is by design.  Ice-T is just having fun. 

The riffs and songs in general don’t rise to the level of Body Count’s self titled debut.  However, anyone that liked that record will find enough to like here. 

“Guys have gone from ‘Fight the Power’ to ‘What does Kim Kardashian have on today?’  What the fuck is going on?”

Ice is telling dirty jokes and speaking truth to power, often at the same time.  On the song Pray for Death he imagines torturing a bully by splitting his nuts with a golf club. 

“America’s losing their cribs while you are bragging about the shit you did or shit you bought.  Most of it lies.  Yeah you know I know you know.”

It’s like if Slayer and Public Enemy made a record together.  In another era this album might be simply entertaining, but unfortunately it is one of the few records I have heard recently where it feels like something is on the line. 

Imagine if an angry Richard Pryor fronted an extreme metal band.  You’ll arrive somewhere close to where these proceedings go.  If that sounds at all interesting to you check it out.  If you have never heard Body Count start with their self titled debut.  If you like that album this is a worthy follow up.  

U2 Gives Away New Album for Free

U2LP

I’ve been dealing with a  couple personal issues.  In the meantime it has come to my attention that through Apple, U2 has given their new album to anyone that has an iTunes account.  It was announced yesterday, without warning, that this would be happening.  If you have an iTunes account just go to the purchased section in the main menu, and click on the cloud in the upper right hand corner of the new record, the record is called Songs of Innocence.  I’ve been listening all day, but I still haven’t heard it enough to write anything close to a review.  One will be forthcoming once I wrap my mind around the new record.  

Anna Calvi Desire Video

Anna Calvi is a singular talent.  I’m still discovering her music and forming an opinion about it, but there is no doubt that she is something special.  Her guitar playing is fantastic and she can go to powerful operatic places with her voice.  I’m always happy to stumble upon someone that is going in their own direction.  

Trouble In Mind

This is one of my favorite songs of all time.  Much like the movie from which it came, of which Trouble In Mind is also the title, it creates its own world.  Alan Rudolph’s movie is a masterpiece of modern noir.  I can get lost in this song forever and it is one of the few songs that I can put on repeat for several plays every time I hear it.  I know that this is an old standard, and that there are purists who will probably like other versions, one that don’t feature synthesizers and reverb drenched trumpet, but this is the one for me.  It’s a sad song, but one in which the very acceptance of that sadness seems to take on some kind of healing quality.  Like all the best art it makes you feel more than one emotion at the same time, and this version is highly emotional.  Marianne Faithfull sings it as if she was born to, and we are all better off for its existence.  

Only an Expert Lyrics

laurie_anderson_1

Now only an expert can deal with the problem
Because half the problem is seeing the problem
And only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem

So if theres no expert dealing with the problem
Its really actually twice the problem
Cause only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem

Now in America we like solutions
We like solutions to problems
And theres so many companies that offer solutions
Companies with names like Pet Solution
The Hair Solution. The Debt Solution. The World Solution. The Sushi Solution.
Companies with experts ready to solve the problems.
Cause only an expert can see theres a problem
And only an expert can deal with the problem
Only and expert can deal with the problem

Now lets say youre invited to be on Oprah
And you dont have a problem
But you want to go on the show, so you need a problem
So you invent a problem
But if youre not an expert in problems
Youre probably not going to invent a very plausible problem
And so youre probably going to get nailed
Youre going to get exposed
Youre going to have to bow down and apologize
And beg for the publics forgiveness.
Cause only an expert can see theres a problem
And only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem

Now on these shows, the shows that try to solve your problems
The big question is always How can I get control?
How can I take control?
But dont forget this is a question for the regular viewer
The person whos barely getting by.
The person whos watching shows about people with problems
The person whos part of the 60% of the U.S. population
1.3 weeks away, 1.3 pay checks away from homelessness.
In other words, a person with problems.
So when experts say, Lets get to the root of the problem
Lets take control of the problem
So if you take control of the problem you can solve the problem.
Now often this doesnt work at all because the situation is completely out of control.
Cause only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem

So who are these experts?
Experts are usually self-appointed people or elected officials
Or people skilled in sales techniques, trained or self-taught
To focus on things that might be identified as problems.
Now sometimes these things are not actually problems.
But the expert is someone who studies the problem
And tries to solve the problem.
The expert is someone who carries malpractice insurance.
Because often the solution becomes the problem.
Cause only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem

Now sometimes experts look for weapons.
And sometimes they look everywhere for weapons.
And sometimes when they dont find any weapons
Sometimes other experts say, If you havent found any weapons
It doesnt mean there are no weapons.
And other experts looking for weapons find things like cleaning fluids.
And refrigerator rods. And small magnets. And they say,
These things may look like common objects to you
But in our opinion, they could be weapons.
Or they could be used to make weapons.
Or they could be used to ship weapons.
Or to store weapons.
Cause only an expert can see they might be weapons
And only an expert can see they might be problems.
Cause only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem

And sometimes, if its really really really hot.
And its July in January.
And theres no more snow and huge waves are wiping out cities.
And hurricanes are everywhere.
And everyone knows its a problem.
But if some of the experts say its no problem
And other experts claim its no problem
Or explain why its no problem
Then its simply not a problem.
But when an expert says its a problem
And makes a movie and wins an Oscar about the problem
Then all the other experts have to agree that it is most likely a problem.
Cause only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem

And even though a county can invade another country.
And flatten it. And ruin it. And create havoc and civil war in that other country
If the experts say that its not a problem
And everyone agrees that theyre experts good at seeing problems
Then invading that country is simply not a problem.
And if a country tortures people
And holds citizens without cause or trial and sets up military tribunals
This is also not a problem.
Unless theres an expert who says its the beginning of a problem.
Cause only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem

Only an expert can see theres a problem
And see the problem is half the problem
And only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem

By Laurie Anderson.  I posted a link to the video of Laurie Anderson performing this song on David Letterman the other day, but I thought the lyrics were worth reprinting in and of themselves.  She has a mind like a laser beam.  

 

Johnny Marr Strikes Again

When Johnny Marr first joined The Cribs I watched a few live videos and didn’t get it.  (He has joined, played with, and now left the band by this point.)  I thought the Jarman brothers, the three brothers that make up the band, looked goofy and that they couldn’t sing.  Keep in mind I like a lot of people that “can’t sing”.  I was dead wrong as the album that the four of them made together, Ignore the Ignorance, is simply fantastic.

First of all, the guitar playing is top notch.  With Johnny Marr onboard you would expect no less, but this is a great TWO guitar band as Ryan Jarman plays a perfect foil to Johnny Marr.  Sure, Johnny Marr is doing a great deal of the most interesting stuff, but Jarman compliments him excellently.  I love records where each guitarist is panned to one side of the recording so you can hear what each of them are doing and also how they compliment each other.  It’s exciting to hear Johnny Marr, who is known for a great deal of overdubs, play as if he is playing live.  There are actually very few overdubs on this record period that couldn’t be replicated by a live band.  There is some occasional acoustic guitar, keyboards, etc., but they are sparse and usually relegated to background duty.  I think this is some of Johnny Marr’s best guitar playing outside of The Smiths, and his tone on this record is as good as it’s eve been.  It sounds as if you could take a bite out of it and chew on it for awhile.

The album is also one of those albums where the whole thing is strong and listenable.  The lyrics are far superior than most pop music, if not reaching the level of true poetry.  And there are plenty of great pop melodies.  The entire band plays well together and, except for those few small overdubs, it almost sounds like a band playing live.  It was produced by Nick Launay who also produced the completely strange and captivating Public Image Ltd. album The Flowers of Romance.  There is a great deal of guitar oriented British pop music, but this is among the best in recent years.

New Sinead O’Connor Album

I’m excited for the release of the new Sinead O’Connor album on August 12th.  It is called I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss.  Above is the single that is out for the album now.  Her last album, How About I Be Me (And You Be You)?, is one of my favorite albums of the last few years.  If her new one comes anywhere close to it I’ll be happy.  She is an absolutely fearless artist.  Although that fearlessness has occasionally lead to a spotty recording career, as she has not always found the right production for her songs while exploring many different genres, when she is at her best she is transcendent.  I’ll never quit saying she was right about the Catholic sex abuse scandal, before anyone wanted to hear about it, and was vilified for speaking this truth.  Although personally and commercially she suffered, she has never quit speaking truth to power.  I’m eternally glad that she is out there.  

If you are biased against her, but willing to give her a new look, or don’t know anything about her, try her How About I Be Me (And You Be You)? album .  Her Gospel Oak E.P. is also extremely good.   I know many people prefer her earlier work, but I feel that it is hit or miss, as I said before, because of some of the production choices.  There are songs I love on all of her records, but those two works that I mentioned above, are the ones that I listen to the most.