Posts Tagged ‘Morrissey’
Another unstructured music chat between myself and my high school pal Adam.
Adam: Apple Music wormhole: “Hey, I should find some Sam Cooke”. Always wanted to listen to more. Then, I find the song “Having a Party”. This is familiar, I say. Who did a cover of this? Rod Stewart! Let’s find that. Unplugged… and Seated. It’s so good. Rod Stewart is a singular talent and voice. Such great songs. So many career phases. Always loved. Even during this wardrobe era…
Cam: This video may be in the all-time Top 10 of “re-enact the album cover art in the music video”…
Cam: I do think he’s underrated. i guess most people mainly know him for covers, “Maggie May”, “Tonight’s the Night”, very 1980s stuff like “Some Guys Have All the Luck” and maybe, the Faces “Ooh La La”. Pretty unique voice and steady output. always kind of a notch below Elton John but without the cool factor of Bryan Ferry, which is too bad. Great voice, very self aware, weird outfits and hair, etc. I had the album Out of Order on cassette. The one with “Forever Young”, “Lost in You”, etc. The cover was basically a look at the top of his head. Another example of “rockers pushing 50 being marketed to children” that was very popular at that time. I bet he and Steve Winwood had an unspoken rivalry for who could chew up more scenery on MTV in the late 1980s.
Adam: “Forever Young” is a monster of a song.
Cam: I love it. The 1980s were a great decade for songs called “Forever Young”…
Adam: Makes me tear up a little thinking about my kids.
Cam: Seriously. Rod’s “Forever Young” is of the ultimate “hey look, i’m a good father” videos.
Adam: Listen to the Unplugged… album
Cam: Did anybody have a sneakily good run in the 1980s as Paul Carrack? “The Living Years” with Mike + the Mechanics plus “Silent Running” or whatever that song is called, “Tempted” with Squeeze, the big solo hit “Don’t Shed a Tear”, some stuff with Ace, I think… monster decade! Also, Rod Stewart and Barry Manilow have been pretty steady in generally having the same look for decades now
Adam: “How Long Has This Been Going On” (sic). Then, “Hey You” at the wall in Berlin.
Cam: Back to Rod Stewart. “Love Touch”, “Young Turks”. He actually had a massive 1980-1989. And the creepy stalker anthem “Infatuation”.
Adam: … And he benefited from the sex appeal thing. Ladies loved him. He played it up. “Some Guys Have All the Luck”. He seemed like a dirty Limey with spikey hair. Then he did the “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” and the ladies said “YES”.
Adam: Go Jays.
Cam: I’m all in on the Jays. Feel like this season… the team that gets hot at the end wins. both leagues. It’s wide open. All the teams are flawed in some way.
Cam: Listened to Bruce’s “Brilliant Disguise” at least 4x this weekend. I know we’ve talked about his phases at length but late 1980s weary Bruce is great. The “Made in the USA” hangover. The fire is still there but subdued. Did some repeats on “Badlands” as well. Great tune but feel like it needs to be even more aggressive, angry.
Adam: Work your way through Darkness on the Edge of Town. It really works best as a full piece. Also, love how Bruce changed his image after “Born in the USA”. He put on a bolo neck tie and a dress shirt and jacket.
Cam: Yeah, I guess he was fuckin’ around with Roy Orbison at this time too. This wasn’t my fave Bruce look. The tailored suit. He was very lean at this time!
Adam: The video (for “Brilliant Disguise”) is amazing.
Cam: My other weekend deep dive was repeats on Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain”. could listen to that an infinite amount of times.
Adam: It’s interesting just how grown-up Bruce wanted to look. Was then doing the Amnesty International shows around then. Plus the first half of Tunnel of Love is a royal “f**k you” to anyone who wanted “Dancing in the Dark” part 2. He’d toured the world on a gigantic level. Then he opens the next album with “I ain’t got you!?! (Guts)!! Side two opens with “Tunnel of Love”. But then “Brilliant Disguise” is the highlight with one step up behind it. The echo and drum and synth sounds work best on those songs. “Tougher Than The Rest” is great and has a mean harp solo. I’d love it sped up just a bit. This is also the Baby Boomers getting to their nostalgia phase and going old school. Everybody loved Roy Orbison.
Cam: It’d be interesting to see what Orbison would’ve done in the 1990s if he hadn’t died. Between Mystery Girl and the Wilburys, he really ended the 1980s on a high note. It’s hard to imagine a world where Orbison and Nirvana would have co-existed. Also, his duet w/ kd Lang on the “Crying” re-record, which was (really) amazing. “I Drove All Night” is a pretty weird song, at least production-wise. I wonder if O wanted it to sound like that. Basically, you could remove the vocals and it sounds very similar to 1980s ZZ Top. Whereas Bruce put on a bolo tie and Clapton put on an Armani suit and later, a trench coat, O stayed pretty consistent look-wise since the 1950s. Though I think he was slightly more “Southern” then. He was only 52 when he died, which is laughably and obviously tragically young.
Adam: Which “I Drove All Night”? Bruce? Cyndi (Lauper)?
Cam: The posthumous RO version. Featuring a pantless Jennifer Connolly in the video plus Jason Priestley!
Adam: Vastly superior by Cyndi! I also think that was video done posthumously. Stock Roy footage.
Cam: I like that song. The more adult contemporary version of Gwen Stefani is basically this era of Cyndi Lauper fast forwarded by 15-20 years.She’s got a similar voice. I feel like Preistly was in another video around this time.
Adam: He was.
Cam: I might be thinking of Johnny Depp in Petty’s “Into the Great Wide Open”. Wait… the guy from Friends is in the “Night Moves” video too! I get Bob Seger and Steve Miller mixed up.
Cam: I remember a Chevrolet commercial featuring “Like a Rock” being played incessantly during Sportsdesk for years and developing a Pavlovian reaction to it, that’d remind me of getting ready for school.
Cam: Also, do we know why Chris Isaak didn’t have a bigger career? Hot video of the early 1990s. An entertainer and actor who was apparently funny. Similar hair to Morrissey. Stupid theory: Jeff Buckley destroyed his career? They kinda sorta had the same niche . Albeit, Buckley was the more indie version but equally as hunky w/ slightly more interesting songs.
Nobody listens to Tom Petty studio albums any more.
This is a cruel and (semi-)unusual thing to say about (A) an artist I like very much and (B) an artist who has sold more between 60 and 80 million albums (accordingly to a Google search of the “Tom Petty has sold” abstract). However, I have a hunch that this is more-or-less the truth.
Anecdotally, Tom Petty has two albums that standout in his back catalogue from a commercial perspective. This random website “has my back” on this claim: http://tsort.info/music/ajer5p.htm
The first is 1979’s Damn the Torpedoes. Popular music website Wikipedia says this album “built on the commercial success and critical acclaim of his two previous albums”. This is a fair comment. It featured the breakthrough single “Refugee” which itself featured a video of Petty wearing a denim jacket and rocking out (or trespassing) in a warehouse alongside the rest of the Heartbreakers. This stuff sold in pre-MTV America and one could suggest that Petty managed to perfectly straddle two distinct archetypes of the day: new wave dorkage such as the Cars and singer/songwriter dorkage such as Neil Young. I’m not saying he sounded like either/or but somehow, he managed to amalgamate rock and anti-rock in the late 1970s by being straight-forward. And yet, his music was completely commercial and he had interesting hair. These are only partial reasons why Damn the Torpedoes is important although at a scant nine tracks, it’s also very short.
1989’s Full Moon Fever is the second of two albums that “rise above” (in my mind) the rest of Petty’s discography. This is a Tom Petty solo album and Wikipedia makes another very astute observation: “The record shows Petty exploring his musical roots with nods to his influences”. I like how this comment is footnoted in Wikipedia; as if an editor is going to swoop in and refute it by suggesting that “Petty was actually resting on his laurels and potentially on cocaine when he wrote this piece of junk”. Anyway, the biggest hit on this album was “Free Fallin'” and that song featured a video with a memorable cast of characters including a snarling Robert Smith lookalike and assorted yuppie scum.
Fast forward to 1993 and MCA releases Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Greatest Hits. Every music fan born between 1976 and 1982 seems to own this album (along with Portishead’s Dummy, Oasis’ (What’s the Story) Morning Glory and the Trainspotting OST, for what it’s worth). Greatest Hits has sold more than 10 million copies and to date, it is Petty’s top seller. Based on this hard fact, we can deduce that people love Tom Petty singles and (probably) love Tom Petty concerts but perhaps they’d prefer to focus on Tom Petty singles rather than Tom Petty studio albums.
There are other artists like this and you see LOTS of people owning their most prominent best-of albums. In this category, I’d place:
– The Eagles’ The Greatest Hits (1971-1975)
– Echo and the Bunnymen’s Songs to Learn and Sing
– Bob Marley’s Legend
– Morrissey’s Bona Drag
– New Order’s Substance
– Queen’s Classic Queen
– Steve Miller Band’s Greatest Hits (1974-1978)
Even if you never owned them and/or hated them, these are all albums and album covers you’d likely recognize if you’ve spent any time in record stores or enjoyed snooping around your friends’ CD collection while they were in the bathroom or outside smoking.
Anyway, it is my believe that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Greatest Hits cemented Petty as “a great singles artist” and while his subsequent full-lengths (either solo or with the Heartbreakers) have typically sold reasonably well, there tends not to be any sustained buzz or chatter about any of them beyond the year they were released.
So let’s talk about Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Greatest Hits even more, OK?
I think Amazon user G. Chance captured the majesty of Greatest Hits perfectly in his comments about the cassette version of this album: “I have loved this CD for as long as I have owned it. It is missing some of his good songs, but overall it is a perfect set of his hits. This CD is a great way to introduce yourself to the magic that is Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.”
Well put, G. Chance! Although are you talking about cassettes or CDs? Please advise.
Greatest Hits runs 18 tracks and 65 minutes, which is kinda perfect. It’s long enough to make for a great listen while driving or working out. It’s also an unusually upbeat collection considering Petty has a ton of melancholy moments in his discography (and he “did” that style quite well). It also features the annoyingly-1990s trend of “exclusive bonus tracks!” which is has mercifully been rendered meaningless by the digital age. But still: “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” is still as awesome as it ever was and the Thunderclap Newman (who?!?) cover “Something in the Air” is totally fine.
Speaking of the digital age, can we use COMPUTERS to determine which of the 18 songs on Greatest Hits is legit “most popular”? Only one way to find out: see which track has the longest Wikipedia entry (obviously!)
Footnote: Wo (sic) has sold more albums: Tom Petty or Eminem? from Yahoo! Answers. Worth a read.
I had it on my wall as a teenager and a university student, at the height of my discovery-and-admiration phase with this band. I’m pretty sure that the Smiths are one of those outfits you’re supposed to grow out of but somehow, I never did and I never want to. I still enjoy them quite a bit and listen to them quite a bit, now well into my third decade of fandom.
I’m not sure Morrissey’s lyrics and Marr’s chirpy guitar licks “speak to me” (whatever that means)the way they did when I was 18. However, as the years past, my appreciation for the subtext of the Smiths’ music has grown. In their words and sounds, I now hear more humour, more bombast, more classicism and more appreciation for the way things were (and the way things aren’t).
Their debut full-length is more than 30 years old but the Smiths kinda nailed that timeliness that many bands aim for and very few achieve.
On a solo jaunt through the UK in late Spring of this year, I found myself in Manchester and through a small amount of Google research, I learned not only could you visit the Salford Lads’ Club itself, there was a room (shrine?) housed within dedicated to the Smiths and Morrissey.
That sounded just great. So I went.
A bit of geography. Exiting the Metrolink tram at the Exchange Quays stop for the 15 minute walk to the club, you’re close to two other Manchester landmarks that should be of interest to anyone else with Anglo-ish leanings. One is Old Trafford, home to the Manchester United football club. The other is the massive (and semi-new) Media City development which contains a mix of retail, theatres, museums, residential properties and most notably, a good chunk of the BBC’s present day operations (including the sound stage where Coronation Street is filmed). Both are worth exploring in their own right. But I digress…
The Salford Lads’ Club is tucked away in a fairly dense residential area that was, at one time, proper council flats and now, appears to moreso be a sleepy working class neighbourhood. After a few false turns, I finally came upon the Club which I should mention is also notable for its appearance in the tremendous bike-based video for the Smiths’ “Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before”.
The Lads’ Club is still very much a lads’ club, although there weren’t any lads mincing about upon my arrival. The opening foyer was full of present-day schedules for youth programs, rosters and various other artifacts from Manchester’s sporting past (with a large focus on soccer/football/futball and boxing). It’s a slightly bizarre juxtaposition considering you’d never really associate sports and the Smiths (with the exception of the decent Morrissey tune “Boxers”) so while the parallel is pretty incidental and purely based on some album artwork, a poster and a music video, visiting the club does give off an aura of Manchester past and present that is quite impactful on a few levels. At least for somebody who grew up in suburban Toronto.
Here are a few snapshots from my visit with a few descriptions for context and commentary.
The very understated name plate on the door frame. Kinda perfect.
Note THAT SAME POSTER in the top left, alongside tons of press clippings, fan photos and some really old gym equipment. Again, nice contrast that kinda works somehow. I do wonder who could bench press more–Morrissey or Marr? Important question, there.
Tons of Post-it notes from fans across the globe. And I mean, literally across the globe: Brazil, Peru, Mexico, China, Australia, Thailand, Russia, etc. All represented. I declined writing my own note. Seemed a bit too “grade school” but I’m happy other visitors took advantage. They were fun to read.
Some transit geek replicated the Manchester tram and streetcar map with all the Smiths albums. A magnificently nerdy and wonderful effort. A better look at the map here. Loosely related, I enjoyed blogTO’s recent TTC/bar breakdown in the same vein. Good job.
A cool and slightly creepy mosaic that used to reside downtown on the outside of the campy art/fashion haven Afflecks in downtown Manchester (worth visiting with low expectations BTW). It has now found a second home in the Smiths room (obviously) and the piece contains likenesses of various Manchester notables. Morrissey was front-and-centre and I was able to pick out Noel and Liam Gallagher (Oasis), Bez (the Happy Mondays), Bernard Sumner (Joy Division/New Order) and Ian Curtis (Joy Division). I checked in later on who everybody else was: Factory Records bawse Tony Wilson, writer/theorist Frederich Engels and footballer Denis Law. Blame the Morrissey message board if this isn’t accurate.
After my tour, I was shown a selection of Smiths and Club keepsakes, all quite reasonably priced given the premium put on nostalgia these days. I went with the Salford Lads’ chocolate bar and the (not pictured) coffee mug which I now obnoxiously display on my office desk like the aging hipster I consider myself to be. It’s an attempt to stay relevant, I guess.
Vanity shot of me outside the club. I wish I moved my backpack out of the frame.
Thanks to Leslie and the staff at the Salford Lads’ Club for arranging my visit. Most appreciated.