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Posts Tagged ‘Steve Miller Band’

Ignored 43: In the ballpark

In Uncategorized on October 2, 2014 at 1:18 am

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To celebrate the start of the 2014 Major League Baseball post season, I conducted a web chat with notable New England minor league baseball blogger @PawSoxHeavy. You can read her work at http://www.pawsoxheavy.com.

We aimed to talk about music in baseball stadiums. We ended up talking (a lot) about John Fogerty, Australian baseball players, Rhode Island, garage rock and Simply Red.

Check it…

Cam: Hello?

PawSoxHeavy: Hi, I’m here.

Cam: Let’s jump right into it. John Fogerty sings “Centrefield”: friend or foe? Make that, “Centerfield”  You’re American.

PawSoxHeavy: Initially, I didn’t mind it. Then, I worked at a ballpark and I hated it. But now I don’t mind it. It’s a far cry from “Fortunate Son”, that’s for sure.

Cam: Interesting. What ballpark did you work at?

PawSoxHeavy: Pawtucket.

Cam: Who were the Red Sox luminaries who passed through during that time?

PawSoxHeavy: It was when I was a teenager. Mo Vaughn, etc.

Cam: Who was the manager?

PawSoxHeavy: It was the year “Under the Bridge” came out. The manager was probably Butch Hobson.

Cam: Seems like… Butch Hobson era. Whoa, jinx!

PawSoxHeavy: Yeah, he was scandalous.

Cam: So John Fogerty, Steve Miller, Bob Seger… who would you say is the modern equivalent of these blue-collared rockers?

PawSoxHeavy: Maybe the Black Keys? That’s a little bit of a stretch.

Cam: John Mayer?

PawSoxHeavy: Those guys are true dinosaurs. I think John Mayer is more of a Kenny Loggins type. Kid Rock, perhaps?

Cam: If you look at old pics of Bachman-Turner Overdrive, aesthetically, it’s amazing those guys ever got a record contract. I like some of their songs but damn, did NOT look like a rock band.

PawSoxHeavy: Didn’t one of them have enormous curly hair?

Cam: Yeah, big hair, tight long sleeved t-shirts with NHL logos was kinda their “jam”. And yeah, I was thinking Kid Rock too.

PawSoxHeavy: Oh, they were Canadian?

Cam: Yup. Leftovers from the Guess Who. Not sure where “Turner” came from. What is the strangest song you ever heard at a ballpark? Any hip indie rock? Explosions in the Sky?

PawSoxHeavy: Also featuring Gary Overdrive.

Cam: “The Pete Best of BTO”

PawSoxHeavy: When I was in Minneapolis, they played Replacements songs. I was surprised…

Cam: That’s pretty amazing. I like those regional cult bands who are just massive local bands in their hometowns. Like Toronto and the band, Toronto. Who I thought were from Buffalo for the longest time. Seriously.

PawSoxHeavy: The White Stripes occasionally? Around here, we hear a lot of John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, as featured in Eddie and the Cruisers.

Cam: Have you heard the Hold Steady’s version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”? Surprisingly amazing and affected!

PawSoxHeavy: I have not. In Pawtucket, they play Carly Simon’s version. I haven’t heard of Toronto the band. Do the Hold Steady sing the entire song? All the forgotten verses?

Cam: “Join us as Carly Simon sings ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ and remain standing for a spirited rendition of ‘Let the River Run’…” The Hold Steady seem to sing 70% songs and then, that dude talks through the other 30% about assorted nonsense.

PawSoxHeavy: They’re nothing, if not distinctive.

Cam: I like them. They seem like the next phase of the Replacements, Guided by Voices ilk. “Hipster bar band”.

PawSoxHeavy: I like them as well.

Cam: Is John Cafferty from New England?

PawSoxHeavy: He is from Rhode Island.

Cam: Is he still… alive? There was some college rock band from Rhode Island in the 1980s, no? Or a hardcore punk band? Necros or something?

PawSox: He is still alive. In the 1980s? I don’t know of any college rock/hardcore. How do you feel about “Centerfield”?

Cam: I like the clapping part at the start but it’s super cheesy. To your point, CCR were effin’ great so that doesn’t help. If it was some no-name singing that song, I’d probably like it much more.

PawSox: The clapping part?!? Really?

Cam: Can you think of any other songs about BEING an athlete?

PawSox: Oh, great question!

Cam: That Springsteen song? “… mumble mumble mumble…. WAS A BIG BASEBALL PLAYA”

PawSox: “Glory Days”. That Dead Kennedys song about high school football? “Jock-o-Rama”, maybe?

Cam: Ya! Totally. Also, Belle and Sebastian sings “I Don’t Want to Play Football” although technically, that’s about NOT playing sports. You know Tom Cochrane, right? His song “Big League”?

PawSox: I don’t know that one,

Cam: HIS boy’s gonna play in the big leagues. HIS boy’s gonna turn some heads HIS boy’s gonna…. knock ’em dead. Ahhhhhh-HOOOOOOOOAH!!! THE BIG LEAGUE!

PawSox: My goodness!

Cam: YouTube it. Canadian rock classic. I like it. The video is black and white, and foggy.

PawSox: Belle and Sebastian also did that Mike Piazza song.

Cam: Do you know the Pavement song “Major Leagues”?

PawSox: I don’t know that Pavement song. Which album?

Cam: I strongly dislike that B+S song. Around the time they started getting way too clever and cutesy.

PawSox: Ha. Also, Tom Cochrane was around way before “Life is a Highway”? Imagine that!

Cam: That Pavement song was on Terror Twilight. It’s fine but kinda forgettable. It sounds like a band that is pretty bored and about to break up. It is my belief that Tom Cochrane was marketed to be the John Cougar Mellencamp of Canada. Really, JCM was the evolution of the Millers and the Segers.

PawSox: Wow, [“Big League”] is is so intense! It’s like “Candle in the Wind” for hockey players.

Cam: Pretty much. Did you ever listen to that band Peter Buck created where they just did baseball songs?

PawSox: I did not! I totally forgot about that. And I read about it extensively. Also, I need to karaoke this Tom Cochrane song.

Cam: Did TC have other hits in the States other than “… Highway”?

PawSox: No. I don’t remember any. He’s no Bryan Adams.

Cam: Few are! So why did Buck do those baseball songs? Are they are sports nerds? I think a guy from the Young Fresh Fellows was in there too!

PawSox: I think baseball is one of the few acceptable hipster sports. Along with jai alai, maybe.

Cam: Is it because you can talk about yourself through the entire game and it’s pretty much fine?

PawSox: I think so! Plus you can casually bust out some Heady Topper… and vape.

Cam: Very true. You have plenty of time to do anything but watch baseball. BTW the Rhode Island band I was thinking about: Deer Tick. Not from the 1980s. Are they a big deal where you are? They are the evolution of the Replacements too. Almost laughably so, they’re so similar.

PawSox: You would think so, but no. Live music in Providence is dead.

Cam: Do any touring bands play there? Are there big summer music festivals? Newport?

PawSox: Newport Folk Festival. Colin Meloy showed up. Newport also has a jazz festival.

Cam: I get that guy and the Death Cab guy and some comedian from Saturday Night Live mixed up. Their faces.

PawSox: … and the guy who was in the last seasons of The Office.

Cam: Gary Overdrive?

PawSox: Ha, no.

Cam: What are the two most random bands you used to mix up? For me, it was Jane’s Addiction and the Leslie Spit Treeo who were a light female-fronted hard folk rock trio from Toronto who were mildly popular in 1990. Stephen Colbert?

PawSox: Grant? Wade?

Cam: Grant Balfour?

PawSox: I can’t remember!

Cam: Grant Balfour, the big Aussie hurler!!

PawSox: Haaaa yes, it was Australian reliever Grant Balfour. Or Pete Moylan.

Cam: Remember Dave Nilsson of the Milwaukee Brewers and southpaw Graeme Lloyd? Also, Moylan is Aussie?

PawSox: Nilsson, yes, Lloyd no. RE: Moylan: he is!

Cam: He’s the Braves pitcher who got hurt, right?

PawSox: … and Ryan Rowland-Smith. Yeah, Moylan was the Braves guy.

Cam: I think RRS was CANADIAN!!!

PawSox: Shut up! He was in Pawtucket last season.

Cam: Nope, you’re right. Aussie.

PawSox: He’s a sexy, sexy man.

Cam: Really? http://cdn.sportsoverdose.com/thumbs/ryan-rowland-smith-18-mlb.jpg

Cam: Do you know the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Gerry and the Pacemakers?

PawSox: The soccer song?

Cam: Damian Moss. Former Giants hurler. Aussie.

PawSox: Yeah. Who was the other Damien who was a catcher?

Cam: Yeah, is that KNOWN as a soccer song? I just heard it maybe 3-4 months ago for the first time. Great tune. Up there with “Ferry Across the Mersey”. Damian Miller?

PawSox: I prefer “Ferry…”. Miller, yeah. He played 4-eva. Like Benito Santiago.

Cam: The real question I need to ask: the Standells sing “Dirty Water”?

PawSox: Oh! It’s a good song.

Cam: Even outside Fenway, not a good song.

PawSox: That’s all I can really say. What? I do like that song.

Cam: It’s so boring though. It’s no “Psychotic Reaction” or “Pushin’ Too Hard”.

PawSox: Yeah, but it’s out of context. The Seeds’ “Pushin’ Too Hard” kicks so much ass!

Cam: Yup.

PawSox: I bought the domain name deadsongs.com

Cam: Oh yeah? What’s going there?

PawSox: I haven’t figured it out yet… or how to execute it, really. It’s about songs like “Centerfield”.

Cam: So, it’s gonna be a blog?

PawSox: I think so, yeah. Songs that produce zero emotion when you hear them. Not even annoyance.

Cam: The aforementioned Kenny Loggins and his song “Nobody’s Fool” from Caddyshack 2? That’s one. I feel completely blank when I hear it. Not happy. Not sad. Not anything.

PawSox: I played “This is It” this morning!

Cam: 54-40 sings “Ocean Pearl”… another

PawSox: I don’t know that one!

Cam: More Canadian stuff

PawSox: What was Them’s big hit?

Cam: “Gloria”? Do you like Simply Red?

PawSox: Oh yeah… I do like them a little. I hear they’re despised in the UK. They’re better than UB40 by miles!

Cam: They were oddly cool. Check the video for “It’s Only Love”. Mick Hucknall getting all amorous. It’s quite the sight. Mick Hucknall wins the “unreasonable self confidence: music edition” award.

PawSox: I don’t know if I can handle that.

Cam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaGBbjDwmAc. I kinda like his shirt in the video

PawSox: Oh, okay..

Ignored 40: The Tom Petty assumption

In Uncategorized on August 19, 2014 at 1:37 am

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Tom Petty just scored his first ever number one album on the Billboard charts.

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!)

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Footnote: Wo (sic) has sold more albums: Tom Petty or Eminem? from Yahoo! Answers. Worth a read.