Tag: Anvil

Day 998: Crossing Abbey Road

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This Friday marks the 45th anniversary of what I believe to be the greatest album of all time.

Before you flick lint in my beer or pelt me with wads of Big League Chew for not designating this title to Pink Floyd’s Piper At The Gates of Dawn or Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ Too-Rye-Ay, allow me to point out that there are many albums that are flawless – sometimes in spite of a number of actual flaws. Nary a wayward note blemishes Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key of Life, and Paul Simon’s Graceland is among the few utterly perfect slabs of 1980’s vinyl. For me, “the greatest” combines not only artistic and technical brilliance, but the subjective distinction of having served as the soundtrack to many of the most fantastic moments of my life. Your results may (and probably do) vary.

The story of Abbey Road is one of pure, primal mirth, flecked with auburn specks of encroaching melancholy. It is the last glorious and romantic trip to Maui for an otherwise doomed marriage. It marks the greatest rock band in history (an assertion I’ll stand by as wholly factual) producing one final brushstroke upon their legacy before heading their separate ways.

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This is not a happy group.

In January of 1969, the Beatles were moving in four different directions, and had been for over a year. Their plan was to return to the studio, record a back-to-their-roots album, perform their first concert since the summer of 1966 (the Pyramids in Egypt were a proposed locale, as was a barge adrift in the Atlantic), and film it all for posterity. This attempt to reconnect resulted in a cavalcade of arguments, the grandiose concert reduced to a noon-hour gig on the roof, and the temporary quitting of George Harrison. Read more…

Day 734: Cranking Up the Craptastic – Worst Music Part 2

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Whenever I’m feeling a little too happy, a little too comfortable within the overstuffed throw-pillows of our culture, I like to remind myself how easy it is to unzip those cushions and catch a whiff of the rancid stuffing inside. We may pride ourselves on our Breaking Bads, our Blue Jasmines, and our Elvis Costello & The Roots records, but this is the same twisted species that also spews out crap-heaps of TLC shows, a nonstop cavalcade of Madea movies, and… well, these musical offerings.

I have devoted 19 of my 733 days to exploring the crowd-roasted excrement that has squeezed through the virtual anus of our corporate culture-makers, only to be (usually) swallowed up by the masses in some deluded mass-hysterical case of collective scatophagia. Maybe I’m trying to understand why we persist in the dank shadow of quality. Why do we support drivel and detritus when the crests of artistic brilliance have showered us with so many more palatable alternatives?

There are questions of taste, and subjective preference should always be approached with a cautious and respectful gait. But then there’s crap. Pure crap. So much pure and loathsome crap.

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Some artists can get away with songs that serve no other purpose than to introduce themselves. Bo Diddley’s “Bo Diddley” is a great tune with a magnetic rhythm. “(Theme From) The Monkees” was literally the theme song to the band’s TV show. But 80% of “Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum)” by the Cheeky Girls involves the two lines: “We are the cheeky girls” and “You are the cheeky boys.” Seriously, those lines are repeated about sixty times. We get it. It’s a pun. Read more…

Day 359: The Thrill Of The Impossible Hunt

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As a symbol of unrelenting persistence in the face of a seemingly unconquerable goal, you’d be hard-pressed to find a greater role model than Wile E. Coyote. My dad used to tell me this, and though he passed away before ever having achieved his own ultimate goal (total dominion over the world’s supply of pelicans), I think the lesson is valid.

Wile E. wasn’t the underdog – he was the dog completely devoid of hope. We know he’ll never achieve his goal: the capture and subsequent butchering of the one lone Road Runner who haunts his dreams and taunts his soul. Yet we know he’ll continue to try.

So who do we root for? The Road Runner is the cock-sure jock, sure-footed and impossibly agile, flicking his tongue at his nemesis and out-maneuvering him at every turn. Wile E. is slower, but methodical and elaborate in his schemes, intent on demonstrating his mental dominance over his foe, yet always neglecting that one tiny detail, that microscopic loophole through which the Road Runner inevitably prevails. I rooted for the coyote. I wanted him to win – not because I wanted the Road Runner to die, but because I wanted to see smarts prevail over flashy speed.

Also, he was kind of a dick.

Also, he was kind of a dick.

Read more…