In the world of kids, there is Christmas and then there is Halloween. Everything else pales by comparison. If you get to hang out with kids this time of year, you know that they are focused on their costumes and getting lots of candy. In fact, the greed and avarice for candy is almost unmatched except for a similar zeal associated with Christmas gifts. This is a big time of year for kids.
Are you thinking "Kids? What about me?" Well, you're right, you can dig into the candy that is set aside for the trick or treaters and indulge yourself. I remember as a teenager my Mom and sisters went nuts and ate 80% of what was purchased to give to the trick or treaters, and I was the one stuck giving out candy. We ran out early, and I ended up digging into the mini bags of Doritos, and near the end of the evening, as the hordes continued to cross the Rubicon and ring our doorbell, I was giving out cans of Coke.
But if you're thinking that you're going to get dressed up and go get drunk in the city, hey Peter Pan, time to grow up. This is a kids holiday. You can dress as silly as you want anytime (and given what I see at work, people take this admonition seriously), and since it's America, you can have brews for breakfast, too. What a country! But if you want your Halloween jones, you came to the right place, because I've got a lot of treats for you from the rock songbook.
First up, it's Bobby Picket and his novelty song from the 60s, Monster Mash. This track always gets heavy rotation this time of year, and was a staple in my house when it first came out. It's a very odd video, but a timepiece in its own right. Here ya go:
Let's get more contemporary, shall we? It wouldn't be Halloween without those crazy Cramps. Exploring the rock/horror movie boundaries, the Goo Goo Muck is one great song from a band that is often overlooked. I love it, and not just on October 31.
What's that? Where's Thriller? Yes, of course, how can I skip that? Like Michael, I don't believe in the occult, either. But then again, what a video! I remember when this one came out - it was a revolution for the MTV generation. The song is mega-Jacksonian too, keeping the King of Pop firmly on the top of the heap. Watch and remember.
How can we forget candy this time of year? And how can we forget Malcolm McLaren and his mash-up band Bow Wow Wow who came up with a tremendous track called I Want Candy that features big African drumming and lots of groove.
A lot of bands put out songs that are not per se Halloween related, but can be lumped in because of the name or the relation to ghosts, ghouls, hell, and every other Halloween horror. I won't go after anything zombie-related because I don't find zombies particularly scary and I find the whole concept stupid. So no Rob Zombie, stuff, ok? But want to hear some of the other stuff to which I was referring? Of course you do. Let's start with this one. The Specials contributed a fantastic slow ska song to the Halloween smorgasbord: Ghost Town.
Want more? How about a campy hit song from Warren Zevon (I was a big WZ fan back in the day) called Werewolves of London:
Death? Sure, we have a great death song. It's one of my all-time favorite songs, too. I can listen to it over and over and not get sick of it. How does that happen? Me don't know, but me like. Here it is in all its glory: Blue Oyster Cult's Don' Fear The Reaper:
One last song, and then it's back to work. Oops, did I do this at work? Well, I could have because it looks like I'm working while I type this. Anyway, this anthemic rock song is one of the best-known tunes ever. It still gets the juices flowing many years after its release. And, at least for me, it's probably very true. Which song am I writing about? Yep, AC/DC's Highway to Hell.
That's it, rockers. Have fun on Halloween, give out the good stuff, make sure the kids have fun, and remember, if you're reading this, you aren't a kid. No puking up red wine on the Elmo costume, ok? Unless, of course, you are wearing that puppy to work.
Devil horns, my friends!
This may not be obvious to some of you, but I love jangly pop coupled with wrist-cutting lyrics. You know, bands that put out songs like The Smiths or The Brilliant Corners. Unfortunately, I didn't have the coin to see The Smiths when they were still together, but their former lead guitarist and one of the creative forces behind the band's songs, Johnny Marr, is still out there putting out new music and touring. We caught his live show at the TLA on Monday.
Everyone thinks that The Smiths were Morrissey's band. Everyone is wrong. Marr was a huge creative force in that band. But The Smiths were short-lived, lasting only about 5 years. Morrissey then went big on his solo career, putting out a lot of songs that sounded like b-sides from The Smiths. Marr, on the other hand, put out one solo album then took about a decade off of his own career, and instead was on a bunch of side projects. Those two career tracks ended up putting Marr behind as a live touring act. That's too bad for him, but great for us as he is making up for it by playing fantastic live shows in tiny venues.
Marr did a really good job handling the lead man role with his very professional and tight band. I was surprised how good his voice held up, including on the multiple covers of The Smiths songs. He isn't Morrissey, with all the theatrics, but his soft take and smooth voice added new touches to the tracks that he played. I loved hearing these songs with their signature guitar sounds played by a true master of the instrument.
And for a guy who has a reputation of not being comfortable in the lead role, that reputation is just flat-out wrong. Marr was preening around the stage, making funny jokes, and keeping the band rolling through a solid two hour set. At one point, he looked out at someone texting in the crowd (yeah, I know, who texts during a show?), and after the song was finished, Marr said "I hope you texted that that song was f#cking great, because it was!" and he was right.
Marr has played with a number of bands post The Smiths: the Pretenders, Modest Mouse, Talking Heads, Electronic - and has performed as a session musician with the likes of Paul McCartney, Oasis, Billy Bragg, Pearl Jam and Brian Ferry. He is much in demand. Marr hasn't been prolific as a solo artist, but has released two recent albums which are both solid efforts. His live show features a great combination of newer and older solo material, plus a number of great The Smiths songs. Here are three great older tracks that he played: Bigmouth Strikes Again, There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, and How Soon Is Now.
I think that Marr played 7 Smiths songs, a couple by his former band Electronic and a bunch of his solo stuff. It was great. Strange that the show wasn't completely sold out - Morrissey plays much bigger venues (well, when he shows up - dig into the archives and you'll see that Morrissey snaked us the last time he was supposed to appear in Philly), and Marr puts on a terrific live show. I was amped up for it and it delivered. How often does that happen in life? Yeah, I know, hardly ever. But when it does - heaven.
And the TLA remains one of my favorite venues in town even if it's in the crappiest part of this rejuvenated city. What the heck happened to South Street? Who knows, but if you need tattoos or a condom, this is your place. But I cadged a street parking spot about 2 blocks away and zoomed home after the show (it was Monday night after all).
It was a big week for BRP. Going to a show on Monday night always sets the week up for challenges. The Man has been just insane with his demands, and I'm still recovering from being on the road and getting a touch sick. Anyway, for those that have stuck with me, I'm back now, and was ready to rock it again on Thursday night when Metallica brought its act to Philly. I'll have that review up and posted soon.
I've got a couple more shows cued up for November, and both are road trips. But that doesn't mean I'm forsaking Philly as I have a number in the pipeline at home, too. Hey, baby, it's that pre-holiday time when bands are out and touring and shows are plentiful. time to gorge!
Hang in there, keep checking back for more action, and know that I'm thinking of you all the time even if I'm not posting. And this is a most excellent time to check out the pretty extensive archives - I've been at this now for 2.5 years, and have opined and vented on all manner of topics. So get your eyeballs digging and your mouth grinning. Later, y'all!
Hey rockers, it went from Summer to Fall in one weekend here in the Northeast. Seriously, I was running my air conditioning on Friday, and by Monday, the heat was on in my abode. Now, I like the heat, but Fall is gorgeous. And we have had some of the most wonderful skies, clouds and breezes the last few days. And today, the morning was sublime, and made me think of this Rascals song:
There are some great autumnal rock songs, but I've already put the best of the bunch on the site before: Neil Young's Harvest Moon and Earth Wind and Fire's September are among the best. But who can forget this Fall classic by the Irish mystic himself:
If you can explain that video to me, I'm all ears. Driving around in a city in the rain just doesn't match up with the lyrics and images of Moondance.
So what else is cooking? Hey, the Fall brings with it a lot of great shows, and I'm digging that. Next up for me is Johnny Marr, the former Smiths lead guitarist. You can rightfully say that you hate the Smiths because of the overdramatic and depressing lyrics, but man, I loved them and their great guitar sounds. Marr was the master of that, and I'm pretty fired up about this show. Check out this song, which I think was shot at the gazebo in Bryn Mawr - how did he get such a big sound in that venue?
Hey, that makes me think that I haven't run a Smiths video ever. How about this one, which features the wonderful line "I would go out tonight / but I haven't got a stitch to wear." This is funny, but listen to that guitar work that drives the entire song.
Alright, after that depressing song with the jangly guitar, now I'm feeling good. How about you? I'm going to sign off with the Tom Petty song that I kyped for the title of this post: Free Fallin'. It's a great song written by one of America's best rock songwriters.
For a boy from Gainesville, Florida, Petty sure seems to have captured the San Fernando Valley in that video, right? I was a big skateboarder back in the day (which helps to explain my punk rock side), and for TP to put the stick into this video was great for me.
And with that, I'm off and running. Running down a damn dream. The American dream. You want some of that, too? Of course you do! Enjoy the day, enjoy the weekend, and Fall back to this site whenever you need your BRP fix. Toodle-oo.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.