Thursday, January 19, 2017

Eugeology: Eugene's List of Hard Rock Albums and Possible Gems Part 2 - Ratt 'Invasion Of Your Privacy'


Is Ratt’s ‘Invasion Of Your Privacy’ a rock n’ roll classic?

Absolutely not.

Is the album a hard rock classic?

I believe that it is just that.

I remember getting my first taste of Ratt when I stumbled across their 1983 self-titled EP at Camelot Music in the Carolina Circle Mall (no longer there). Their songs were catchy and infectious. Their look was New York Dolls meets Duran Duran. And they had a great cover of “Walkin’ The Dog” on that EP. The production was a bit murky, but that led to their full-length LP ‘Out Of The Cellar’ on Atlantic Records.

‘Out Of The Cellar’ is a mighty fine album as well. But for me, ‘Invasion…’ hit all the right notes. It arrived in stores not long after my high school graduation. My friend Jonathan Everett and I went to pick up my LP and his cassette copies at the old Record Bar in the Friendly Center Shopping Center.

Jonathan put his cassette into the tape player of his hot red 1985 Chevrolet Camaro before we left the parking lot. The volume was set at level that would make Lemmy Kilmister wince. And when those opening riffs of “You’re In Love” bounced off our eardrums for the first time I knew that I was in love with that song and wanted more.

I got more. In fact, I got a great album.

When people talk about the great opening tracks from albums, “You’re In Love” should be on the list somewhere. It’s the perfect blend. One solo guitar opens the song and it doesn't take too long the rest of the band to thunderously joins in.

Sure, “Lay It Down” could’ve been a good choice as well. But its placement as the third track on side one really provides that boost again after “Never Use Love”. The song sequence was definitely thought out. It was like Ratt used their own tunes to make a “mix tape” with the proper ebb and flow.

I wanted to be in Ratt. I wanted to be Juan Croucier. He is one of my favorite bass players. He wasn’t just a “thumper” plodding along with the beat. He worked the neck. And when you saw him play live, it was a show. He didn’t stand in one place like a mannequin. He was animated. The song made him move and seemed to consume him on stage. And at times, Croucier looked as if he was beating his instrument into submission and causing it to bend to his will.

But the most underrated musician in the band was Robbin Crosby.

Warren DeMartini got all the accolades because he handled most of the lead guitar chores. DeMartini got those accolades because he IS a very fine guitarist. Crosby excelled on the rhythm guitar. Sure, he looked like a fullback that modeled his appearance after Bea Arthur from ‘The Golden Girls’ complete with makeup and the long jackets. But Crosby was the back bone of the twin guitars in the band. The band didn’t have the typical power chord strum or chugga-chugga-chugga-chugga style. Ratt were more of the Van Halen type of songwriters where combination of notes provided most of the riffing. There was more pickin’ than strummin’ with Ratt.

As an aspiring rock star, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out a lot of those riffs with my ears alone. As a self-taught wannabe, I found Ratt as aggravating as Molly Hatchet. Jonathan could pick out the songs in just a matter of minutes. He was always there to calm my aggravation when it came to pickin’ out the tune.

‘Invasion Of Your Privacy’ was produced by Beau Hill. Hill produced ‘Out Of The Cellar’ and they guy had a way of recording and producing hard rock. He gave it a cleaner, clearer sound and steered clear of the murkiness that most hard rock albums exhibited at the time. He also produced another fine album, ‘Midnight Dynamite’ by Kix.

He helped to produce a few more million selling albums later in the decade that were, to me, pieces of crap. But hey, the guy had a mortgage and bills to pay. And who can fault Hill for having goals and meeting them. He will always have more gold and platinum awards on his walls than I will ever have.

As for ‘Invasion Of Your Privacy’… I find it as one of Hill’s top achievements. “Lay It Down” just cracked the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. ‘Invasion…’ climbed to number 7 on their album chart. As my friend Benjy Johnson once said, “They toured world as a headliner with that album.”

I consider “Closer To My Heart” as the only dim spot on ‘Invasion Of Your Privacy’, but I can live with it. Pearcy’s acid-scarred voice provides the perfect countermeasure to the clean and crisp production from Hill. And first and foremost, the album is fun.

The lyrics won’t make you contemplate any philosophical thoughts or get you into a heated debate on Facebook concerning the meaning. The songs are of the universal variety. Boy meets girl, girl problems, and poppy hooks with a side of misogynistic undertones.

It was the perfect album for that time and place. ‘Invasion Of Your Privacy’ will always remain as a “go-to” when I’m looking for something that will cause me to switch off my brain and just rock out.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Eugeology: Eugene's List of Hard Rock Albums and Possible Gems Part 1 - Mother Love Bone 'Apple'

Jon Lowder asked me about making him a list of my top 50 hard rock albums. If I remember correctly, it seems that Jon is a closet hard rocker and hard rock is my favorite genre of music. Jon believes that he may have missed out on a few things and he’s willing to be “turned on” to some artists and albums that he’s never heard.

I’ve spent months and months agonizing over my list. I scratched out and erased over and over. I’ve pulled things out just to file them back into my collection a couple of days later. I took this list very seriously.

I didn’t want it to be a generic list because I wanted to feature some artists that were drastically overlooked during their “time”. I even had an issue about which album to open up the listening party with Jon Lowder and Tim Beeman.

Now please keep in mind that the list is random. I just couldn’t rank them because they all mean something and because they’re on my list should be some sort of validation as to how good they are. I’m just as big of a music snob as I am a television snob. You will not find Poison or Bon Jovi on my list.

I think it’ll be fun to read about the different perspectives from Jon and Tim. I’m curious if we’ll find common ground or if I know that we’ll be discussing them with our conflicting points of view over beers.

Jon, I don’t know about. Tim?

Oh yeah, we’re DEFINITELY going to butt opinionated heads. I got a kick out of his opinions on each album that he reviewed while covering Rolling Stone’s list of the Top 500 Albums of All-Time.

So whattya say we get to it?

We’re calling it “Eugeology: Eugene’s List of Hard Rock Albums and Possible Gems”.

Up first (in no particular order) is Mother Love Bone’s ‘Apple’ that was released in 1990.

I remember it coming out when the weather was warm. I spent many days driving around the Triad with the windows rolled down and ‘Apple’ cranked up. It was a great album for that kind of activity.

I knew grunge music was here to stay after hearing Soundgarden’s ‘Louder Than Love’. I could hear the nails pounding on the coffin of what people liked to call “hair metal” (a term that I don’t care for). I had a couple of friends telling me to check out Mother Love Bone. I kept reading about them in the music magazines. They were on my radar. Somehow, I ended up with a promo CD of ‘Apple’ a week before it was released.

“Grunge” from that album didn’t really hit me over the head. Sure, it was a fairly new subgenre of hard rock but ‘Apple’ didn’t sound “grungy”. I heard a lot of influence from Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith. I was hearing a long forgotten wah-wah pedal being used. ‘Apple’ is 70s hard rock with occasional inane lyrics mixed in with stellar musings. I also got the feeling of playfulness at times. Andrew Wood could have been the next Robert Plant. You could hear “rock god” front man oozing from his vocals.

I certainly didn’t get that from Soundgarden. Soundgarden were loud and abrasive with very little fun allowed.

‘Apple’ kicks ass. Then there are moments of beautiful balladry. Mother Love Bone was touted as “the next big thing” but that all quickly faded when lead vocalist Andrew Wood died.

For those that do not know, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, now of Pearl Jam, were members of Mother Love Bone. The Seattle grungers came together for a one-off as Temple of the Dog. The self-titled album was a tribute to Andrew Wood.

In a sense, Mother Love Bone lives on as Pearl Jam. And in my opinion, it’s a lame Mother Love Bone. I remember my girlfriend at the time was excited to play Pearl Jam’s ‘Ten’ for me. She had it in her grubby little hands days before its release. She dug some Mother Love Bone and we were both looking forward to hearing Pearl Jam.

I was so underwhelmed that I left her house shortly after she started blasting it. She loved it. I was a bit crushed. I didn’t care for Vedder even though I enjoyed most of the Temple of the Dog album. It’s his voice. It’s his politics. It’s his pretentiousness. It’s his breathing. I just don’t care for Vedder.

Mother Love Bone’s ‘Apple’ stands on its own and apart from the grunge scene that was emerging from Seattle. The album holds only a few real comparisons to anything from Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, or Soundgarden.

If you’ve never heard it go look for it now on YouTube. Someone posted the whole darn thing.

Standouts – “Stardog Champion”, “Holy Roller”, “Come Bite The Apple”, and “Capricorn Sister”

Monday, April 25, 2016

Your Television Premiere Dates for the Week of April 25 - May 1, 2016

My hats off to NBC and 'Saturday Night Live' for their special Prince tribute that ran this past Saturday night. Here's a link to see this wonderful look at an IMMENSELY talented American icon of popular music.


I was floored by some of the performances that I had never seen. Especially his performance of "Fury". The man's playing was ON FIRE during that song. And that is no way an attempt to be "punny".

I didn't fully get on board the Prince wagon until the 'Batman' album and then it was pretty much over for attempts to see him live. I dug his music, but it was everywhere. I didn't feel the need to immerse myself in it when it was so readily available on the radio and television. I took it for granted because you just couldn't escape him. And when I finally found that deep appreciation, his shows became a little more rare and exclusive for me to attend. And now I'm kicking myself after witnessing the electric performances from 'Saturday Night Live'. Hell, I've been kicking myself for years.

And yes, his Superbowl performance still stands as the best one yet. In the rain, mofos!

Not a whole lot going on this week with television premieres. And the 28th kicks off May sweeps!



PREMIERE DATES

Monday, April 25
- ‘Reign’ is back with its spring premiere at 8pm on the CW.
- ‘Mike & Molly’ is also back with its spring premiere at 8pm on CBS. The remaining episodes are the last episodes.
- ‘Turn’ is back for a third season on AMC at 10pm. And possibly its last.

Sunday, May 1
- ‘Penny Dreadful’ is back for a third season on Showtime at 10pm.




NETFLIX

Wednesday, April 27
- Season 3 ‘The Fosters’

Friday, April 29
- Season 1 ‘Danger Mouse’

Saturday, April 30
- Season 2 ‘Sensitive Skin’

Sunday, May 1
- Seasons 1 – 3 ‘Easy Living’
- Season 1 ‘LoliRock’

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Your Television Premiere Dates for the Week of April 18 - 24, 2016

Yeah, I know that I'm a couple of days late with my update. I've got a bunch of excuses... Busy work week, moving, and the impending marriage. So yeah, it has been difficult to find time for this commitment of spreading the knowledge of new television creamy goodness. Please accept my apologies. I plan on getting ahead of next week's premieres.

If you missed any of the shows your interested in from Monday and Tuesday, there's good news. In this day and age you can either find them on the network websites, Hulu, or with network apps. And in some cases, you may have "On Demand" available with cable or satellite TV providers. This is an exciting time for a TV junkie to be alive!


So here goes... What you need to know for the coming week.


PREMIERE DATES

Monday, April 18
- Season two of ’12 Monkeys’ dropped on Syfy at 9pm.

Tuesday, April 1
- ‘Containment’ debuted on the CW at 9pm. Zombies and to a lesser degree, vampires (‘The Strain’), has kind of fueled this type of series. It’s a limited run series so I’m not wasting my time on this type of broadcast network fodder.
- ‘The Night Manager’ debuted on AMC at 10pm. It’s a mini-series and I’m only going by the promos… We ONLY know what it is from the series title. And that, my friends, along with the tight shots of Hugh Laurie’s face isn’t enough to compel me to watch.

Wednesday, April 20
- Season 3 of ‘Deadbeat’ hits Hulu.
- ‘Time Traveling Bong’ debuts at 10:30pm on Comedy Central.

Thursday, April 21
- ‘Inside Amy Schumer’ is back for a fourth season on Comedy Central at 10pm.

Sunday, April 24
- Season 6 of ‘Game Of Thrones’ hits HBO at 9pm.
- Season 3 of ‘Silicon Valley’ drops on HBO at 10pm.
- Season 5 of ‘Veep’ arrives on HBO at 10:30pm.



AMAZON PRIME TV

Monday, April 18
- Season 1 ‘Wubbulous World Of Dr. Seuss: The Cat Adventures’
- Season 1 ‘Home Fires’
- Season 1 ‘The Widower’

Thursday, April 21
- Season 4 ‘Inside Amy Schumer’
- Season 2 ‘Veep’

Monday, April 11, 2016

Your Television Premiere Dates for the Week of April 11 - 17, 2016

NEWS

FYI cancelled ‘Kocktails With Khloe’ and the world is better for it. Look for the finale episode of this primetime talk-fest to air on April 20.




PREMIERE DATES

Monday, April 11
- ‘The Detour’ debuts on TBS at 9pm. It’s about a family on vacation. TBS believes they’re “very funny”, but their track record hasn’t proven that. My advice… Turn around and forget ‘The Detour’.
- ‘Hunters’ debuts on SyFy at 10pm. Based on Whitley Strieber’s novel ‘Alien Hunter’, it centers around the disappearance of a decorated Philadelphia policeman’s wife.

Tuesday, April 12
- ‘The Mindy Project’ is back from it’s midseason hiatus on Hulu with all new weekly episodes.
- NBC has a sneak preview of ‘Game Of Silence’ for you at 10pm. Five childhood friends reunite and they have a secret from days gone by… blah, blah, blah. Based on a Turkish series. Regular day and time begins on April 14 at 10pm.

Wednesday, April 13
- ‘Strong’ is a new reality competition series with 10 of America’s best trainers work with people that have “potential”. This sneak preview airs at 9pm with it’s regular time/day April 14 at 8pm.

Thursday, April 14
- ‘Strong’ time slot debut at 8pm on NBC.
- ‘American Grit’ debuts at 9pm on FOX. It’s a reality competition series hosted by Professional Wrestler John Cena.
- Season 4 of ‘Orphan Black’ drops on BBC America at 10pm.
- ‘Game Of Silence’ time slot debut at 10pm on NBC.

Friday, April 15
- ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ is back for a second season on Netflix. This made my Top 5 Best New Shows of 2015 and I will be all over this one.
- ‘Thunderbirds Are Go’ is a remake of the 1960s British TV series that mixes CGI and live-acton model sets. This series reboot is on Amazon.

Sunday, April 17
- Season 2 of ‘Good Witch’ drops on Hallmark at 9pm.



NETFLIX

Monday, April 11
- Season 2 ‘TURN: Washington’s Spies’

Tuesday, April 12
- Season 1 ‘AJIN’

Friday, April 15
- Season 3 ‘Cuckoo’