Top 10 Game Of Thrones Theme Covers

zzzzzgotWell after two completely insane episodes of Game Of Thrones episodes and the approaching season finale this Sunday, I thought it was finally time to do my obligatory music blog best theme covers list. If you don’t watch the show, then this won’t mean jack-squat to you, but at least recognize that there’s a reason for the copious amounts of fan tributes. Seriously, there’s not only hundreds of covers of the song out there, but also dozens of lists of the best covers. But yet, the majority of those lists strive for accuracy over intrigue, and if I wanted to hear an accurate version of the song I’d just watch the show. If you want a killer accurate version, then watch these cello folks nail it. If you want interesting shit that you’d share and laugh with your friends about, then dig into these. I’m starting with number one – enjoy.

1) The 1980’s HBO on VHS Version – This is why the internet exists folks. Utterly perfect.

2) Western Cover – This works so goddamn well, it almost makes you yearn for a San Antonio spin-off of Westeros.

3) The All Dinklage Version – It’s like somebody taped me in the shower. If you’re new to the blog, you’ll realize now that I’m occasionally really hyped on some idiotic crap.

4) Game Of Goats – Don’t be fooled by the auto-tuned cat or dog versions; as in all internet animal battles, the goat always wins.

5) 8-bit Nintendo Version – I’m a sucker for these old-school sound-chip songs – real heart-string tuggers in my book.

6) Floppy Disc Hard-Drive Versions – There’s nerds, and then there’s nerds. So kudos to the geniuses that could be saving our planet but instead are wasting their time on this.

7) The Queen’s Guard Cover  Not the craziest version, but you got to give props to the actual kingdom for knowing apropos situations for going slightly left of center.

8) The Blue Man Group Version – Whoa, did you see how blue these dudes are? Crazy.

9) The TV On The Radio Version – Real knows real, as they say. Just last night in Australia the TVOTR guys decided to encore with a dubbed out version of the theme.

10) The Phil Lesh Version – After author George R.R. Martin acknowledged slipping Grateful Dead references into the book, it’s only fair to include this version of the GD bassist giving the tune a swing with his sons.

Concert Review: Sufjan Stevens @ The Schnitzer Concert Hall – 06.08.15

IMG_0369Does beauty truly lie within the eyes (or ears) of the beholder, or is it possible for something’s inherent beauty to be an objective fact? It’s a timeless philosophical debate, and one that can be ended immediately by attending a Sufjan Stevens performance. I’ve seen some open weeping at concerts before – Sigur Rós, Grateful Dead spin-offs – but never to this extent. Last night’s gig at The Schnitz here in Portland, was the most collective, public catharsis I’ve ever been a part of; far more than any structured church service I’ve attended at any time. It was even more powerful when recognizing that the elaborate costumes and stage designs that Sufjan has become renowned for are absent on this tour. Sure, there was some beautiful lighting, but at times it was just Suf, his guitar, and old family videos playing in the background. And in a true testament to both the power of his songs and his inherent strength as a performer, that was all that was needed to bring wide swaths of the crowd to tears.

You know how Michelangelo once said that every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it? There was an equally sculpted form to last night’s show. I kept having this feeling that there was this giant flowing channel of the divine, and that Sufjan had somehow managed to just chip away at the boarders of it to reveal his creation within. So the songs and the performance itself were molded on the core of the Great Other, and we were experiencing one man’s vision of how his own being sees and interacts with the eternal flowing channel.

The man has never shied from being deeply personal and revealing in his lyrics, but on this year’s Carrie and Lowell, things went that extra step into shameless brutality as we heard him deal with the passing of his mother. We would get every song of that new record at some point during this set, and it was both breathtaking and heartbreaking to see him work his way through songs that obviously resonate of a truth he’s still grappling with. After the emotional centerpiece, “Eugene,” he tried to discreetly wipe his tears away, but that earnestness was what brought the crowd further into his truth. After being quiet between songs for the first half of the set, Sufjan started to become quite vocal in the second half; telling stories about being a young boy in Eugene, and commenting frequently on the dichotomous nature that is Oregon itself – a land equally balanced within the sacred and the profane. Thriving on the dichotomy, his stories would flip from tales of the holiness of the coast to joking narratives about his admiration for famous Oregonian Tonya Harding. When he admittedly realized how bipolar his rants were, he commented “It’s the only way I can get through this set right now.”

I’ve seen a lot of performers over the year build an image of themselves on false sincerity, but this was the opposite end of the spectrum. This was a man being overwhelmed by life itself, and doing the only thing he knows to get through that – opening his heart and singing the truth he knows. When, on several occasions, he thanked the crowd for being here in this moment with him and being open to his process of growth and mourning, you could sense the entire building’s collective empathy and gratitude.

I could isolate highlights of the show, but that would take away from the experience as a whole entity unto itself. I will say this though – the live groove he added to his other Oregon song, “Should Have Known Better” fully consumed me in a way that I beg of most artists to attempt. But again, this was an experience unlike any other. It was beautiful, and honest, and overwhelming. When the house lights finally came back on, the woman behind me let out an enormous sigh and said “I don’t think I could have taken much more of that.” I looked down and realized I had been holding the same full, warm beer for over two hours. Thank you Sufjan Stevens.

Drug-Dealers and CEOs Rejoice As Grateful Dead Announce $700 Box Set

30tripsjbWith all the hype about the GD50 shows this year, there’s been a lot of accusations going around about the Dead Camp being far more money-hungry than they have ever been before. First off, I wholeheartedly disagree with all the folks who are calling the addition of shows in Santa Clara and live streaming packages as promoter Pete Shapiro’s quest for every last cent he can get. Fact of the matter is that there are still a shitload of Deadheads out there, and you have to do everything in your ability to let as many people get access to the shows as possible. But on the other hand, as I pointed out two years ago, we have entered a new era in which the boys aren’t afraid to take all the money that’s floating out in the world which people would like to put into their pockets. So today’s announcement of a new career-spanning box-set comes as little surprise.

The new 80-disc set, entitled Thirty Trips Around The Sun, will feature a full live concert from every year of the band’s career. There will only be 6,500 sets sold, each of which will include a bonus Vinyl 45 and a 288-page companion book, all for the low price of $699.95. But seriously, when you do the math, that comes out to $8.75 a disc, plus the bonus crap, so it’s not the most unreasonable thing ever. Of course, there is the consideration that nearly every show included is already available for free somewhere online in an audience-taped format, plus the fact that there’s nothing stopping anyone from sharing these soundboards with friends. So the fact of the matter is that if you can’t afford the $700, you’re not necessarily missing out on something that will make you a sub-par Deadhead. Which leads us to the question of who actually will shell out this money…

Drug-dealers and CEOs. Simple as that. The Dead-folks are well aware that there are plenty of well-to-do Deadheads in the world, so why not make a product that is exclusively for them. The rich business-folk will buy it because they’ve got money to burn, and the rich drug-dealers will buy it because they love to flaunt their hippy-wealth in front of their peers. Think of it as a shout-out to all the one-percenters in the extended Grateful Dead family. Now should this be thought of as a money-grab? Not per se. This isn’t the same thing as making concert tickets so expensive that only the social elite could witness the performances. Rather, this is acknowledging that there is a luxury Grateful Dead market out there, and noting that there is no reason to not take the lumps of money they’re willing to shell out. If all box sets get sold, (which they will,) then that’s 4.5 million dollars in sales, and that’s not even including the USB drives and condensed sets also up for sale. If you knew that you could make a product that could not only be priced so high, but will also be assured to sell out, it’d be a hard thing to not consider. So congratulations to the core-four for the new additions to their individual net worths of 30ish million dollars. Hopefully next time you visit your local recreational drug dealer, he’ll let you touch his individually numbered Grateful Dead box set.

You Should Know This Album: The Slip – Eisenhower

EisenhowerDepending on how closely you followed Boston’s The Slip, 2006’s Eisenhower was either a surprise or a relief, or potentially both. Having never been a major fan prior, my vision of the band was as jam-friendly jazz-cats who usually played afternoon sets at New England festivals in the ’90s. So when the album first dropped and the waves of insisting calls to listen started rolling in, I was expecting some neo-progressive instrumentals. Little did I know that The Slip I once knew was no more. The mere inclusion of vocals initially took me off guard. But far more shocking was the new realm of compositional structure. Any hip Berklee kid can add some lyrics on top of their mod-jazz game and think they’ve made a breathtaking cross-genre step in the evolution of song, but The Slip had done something different. They had taken their infallible chops, and incorporated them into the foundations of quality indie-rock. It’s like they had turned the dial away from Scofield, and high into the Built To Spill realm. And of course, the craziest turn of all was the fact that this was essentially a farewell record for the band. No others would follow, and the band began to play more and more sporadically directly after its release. They essentially fizzled away in 2011, directing more of their focus on side projects like The Barr Brothers and Surprise Me Mr. Davis. They’re finally playing High Sierra Music Festival again this year – their first gig in four years. But regardless of what more may or may not come, they have crafted an eternal legacy with Eisenhower. In many ways, it’s one of the greatest axis albums of all time: the one record that can both turn your indie-rock friends onto jazz/jam, and your jamband friends onto indie-rock. Let’s go track by track.

1) “Children Of December”

The bass tone of Marc Friedman is bone-liquefying from the get-go. In some ways, this is the most direct pop track on the album – as long as your definition of direct pop involves obscure altered chords, six or seven distinct cadences, and an explosive closing breakdown. But like the rest of the record, the magic lies in their ability to make complexities sound so simple and approachable.

2) “Even Rats”

Give it up to Guitar Hero for turning eager young button pushers onto some music that they probably never would have heard elsewhere with this track. The technical chops from all three of the fellas allow for unique hooks that most other bands would struggle creating with digital effects, let alone playing straight-forwardly. I always thought this one sounded like a Benevento/Russo Duo tune with vocals added.

3) “If One Of Us Should Fall”

Quite possibly one of the most powerful sappy songs ever composed. Again, the illusion of simplicity is massive here. I’m sure there’s plenty of folks who tried to pick up their acoustics to play along with this one, only to stumble miserably. The verses keep bending in on themselves til they finally release into the chorus at the three minute mark. Any pop/rock producer will tell you that three minutes is way too long to wait for a chorus, but it’s done so tastefully here that it feels like having an orgasm in a grassy field when it finally lets go.

4) “Airplane/Primitive”

The song. The intro is idyllic pre-takeoff music – both intentional and perfect for the airplane allusion. Brad Barr’s chordal phrasing has the potential for this song to go in a number of different directions, but when his brother Andrew kicks in with the driving pseudo-breakbeat, there’s nowhere to go but up. In frank relative terms, there just isn’t that much music that is comparable to this sound – inspiring, impressive, big but not over-the-top, catchy but not annoying – masterpiece level stuff in my opinion.

5) “Suffocation Keep”

The necessary breather after “Airplane/Primitive.” Maybe one of the weaker cuts in terms of stand-alone quality, but entirely necessary for the dynamic flow of the album. And while at times, Brad’s lyrics can be a little eye-rolling, you have to give it up to him for constructing new phrases that sound completely natural after a few listens. I’m still not sure what or where the Suffocation Keep is, but I’m glad I don’t have one in my house.

6) “First Panda In Space”

Essentially the instrumental into to “The Soft Machine,” this one may serve as the greatest testament to the band’s untouchable, intermingling of chops. Starting as nothing but an open avant-garde experiment, it seamlessly evolves into the groove and progression of its successor.

7) “The Soft Machine”

Andrew Barr’s ability to turn a 4/4 beat into a staggered, break-heavy pocket is a cream-dream. This is one of those tracks that would have sounded mundane and repetitive in weaker players’ hands, but with this trio sounds triumphant.

8) “Life In Disguise”

The most tender track on the album, and thus the most likely to play over the credits of a WB comedy/drama. But at the same time, there’s a degree of sincerity here that is wholeheartedly lacking from any comparable indie/pop songs of existential wonder and despair.

9) “Mothwing Bite”

And yet another track whose bare bones would have led to failure in others’ hands. Tasteful synthed-out overdubs only make the pocket stronger, despite their highlighted nature. While Brad uses relatively clean tones on the majority of the album, his distorted solo here meshes in perfectly with everything around it.

10) “The Original Blue Air”

A taste of the old Slip. Powerful, churning, fast, multi-faceted, and using Zappa-esque turns of phrase to compose an instrumental that somehow maintains a touch of pop sensibility. This one always reminded me of what a Roald Dahl book would sound like in a compressed, two-minute, instrumental song form.

11) “Paper Birds”‘

There’s codas and then there’s true closers, and “Paper Birds” is the perfect farewell to a record you want to call your best friend. Starting with five minutes of sparse, delicate verses lamenting the one that got away, the tune eventually starts a pulsing crescendo based upon yet another killer bass line from Friedman. And sweet mercy, he has one of the greatest tonal touches in the game. But then the track releases into one final rock passage, lyrically touching on all the themes presented in the album leading up to it. This too releases into a soundscape-esque capping sequence reminiscent of someone tying their rowboat to a mooring while the sunsets on a mirror lake – a perfect inducer of joyful sighs.

Music Sites and The Inbred Cycle of Clickbait: The Tyler The Creator Fiasco

zzzztylerWhere do you go for your news these days? Perhaps you go nowhere in particular, but rather just wait for the trending topics to cycle down into whatever social newsfeed you happen to be streaming. Perhaps you have one “trusted” site that is your go-to factual outlet. What about music news? In the music world, there seems to be less of a decree of accuracy on the actual facts, so have you found that one outlet that you really trust? And when you read “news” on said site, do you ever look at the fine print to see where they got their information from? Many of the sites are prone to not attribute any place or person as their source, but sometimes it takes just one bunk story to realize they’re all just feeding off one another. Case in point: last night’s Tyler The Creator tweet.

So those tweets came around 5:10 PST yesterday – some simple lines from a young rapper reminiscing about the past five years of his life. I suppose if you were really hurting for any sort of “news” and you had an editor demanding more clickbait from you, then you could possibly get the implication that he was saying his Odd Future crew had broken up. (The 7 letters he refers to are their anagram: OFWKTA.) However, if you weren’t in that me-first with the news mindset, you’d probably just brush it off as a young kid talking about how fast those first few exciting years of his career flew by. But…

5/27 7:07pm PST – Billboard’s Colin Stutz publishes an article titled “Did Tyler the Creator Just Say Odd Future is Over?

5/27 7:50pm PST – Consequence of Sound’s Alex Young publishes “Tyler the Creator Says Odd Future Is No More

5/27 8:43pm PST – Pitchfork’s Evan Minsker publishes an article citing the Billboard piece titled “Tyler the Creator Implies That Odd Future Is No More

5/27 9:00pm PST – Complex’s James Elliot changes one word in the Billboard headline and publishes “Did Tyler The Creator Just Announce That Odd Future Is Over?

5/28 5:43am PST – Stereogum’s Tom Breihan wakes up and reads other news feeds, and thus publishes “Tyler the Creator Hints That Odd Future Are No More” – Note the change of just one word in the title from the Pitchfork article.

5/28 5:50am PST – Dazed Media wakes up and does the same thing: “Odd Future Appear To Have Split Up

5/28 8:54am PST – LA Weekly’s Chaz Kangas posts “Is This The End For Odd Future?”

Then Tyler woke up and tweeted this:

This of course led to many, but not all, of the sites then adding updates to their earlier pieces, but of course the provocative clickbait headlines are still left up. And depending on how many folks don’t read articles fully, the rumor continues. And of course, this creates whole new clickbait for sites late to the game…

5/28 – Pigeons and Planes publishes “Odd Future Hasn’t Disbanded, Tyler The Creator Was Just Reminiscing On Old Times

5/28 – 8:49am PST – MTV publishes a massive clickbait article even though the end of the piece states that their title is a false alarm: “Is Odd Future Over? Please Tyler, Say It Ain’t So

Now I will give props to both Rolling Stone and Spin for not reporting on the story, presumably because they use a crazy idea called “fact-checking” before they publish articles. And also give it up to Brooklyn Vegan for somehow constantly being an outpost of journalistic integrity. But for the rest of these sites, we should all use this experience as a way to take note of how reporting is actually done in the music business today. At least Pitchfork attributed where they got their story from – all the other sites just put up the articles as if they were specifically reading Tyler’s Twitter feed and came to the conclusion on their own. The most aggravating site has to be Stereogum, solely for the fact that just on Tuesday they published an article addressing Jack White and Third Man Records’ frustration over recent bullshit clickbait articles. That article essentially being clickbait itself as well. And a big fuck you to MTV for publishing the bullshit article when they already had the full story that it wasn’t true. Read your labels and don’t believe the hype everybody.

Pure Americana: Dylan Covers Sinatra On Letterman

463141354More magical moments in Dave’s final days. Last night the elusive Bob Dylan appeared on the show for the first time in 22 years and played “The Night We Called It A Day” – one of the tracks off his Frank Sinatra album from this year. I’ve read a lot of coverage of the performance today with most people fixated on the fact that he didn’t play a popular song of his, and how he was weird when Dave came up to greet him after the performance. And quite frankly, if you’re writing for a major or pseudo-major music publication and you haven’t yet figured out what Bob Dylan is all about, then it’s time to go back to square one. Anybody who expected Dylan to give some emotional send-off, has no clue who the man is. Personally, I thought it was an entirely appropriate song for the occasion, and I was pretty blown away at how good Bob’s voice sounded. But the real magic part of it was the union of icons. “Real knows real” as they say, and just for Bob to agree to appear is a momentous occasion. Think about it: you have the greatest songwriter in American history, performing a song by one of the greatest singers in American history, on the penultimate show of potentially the greatest broadcaster in American history. Proud time for our country. And let’s not forget to mention that Bill Murray is backstage covered in cake – good night for us Pats. If you’re looking for more emotional Dave farewells, watch the Julia Roberts kiss from last week, or watch Jimmy Kimmel openly weep last night as he instructed all of his viewers to watch Dave’s final show over his own tomorrow. But watch the Dylan performance below, and bask in the glow of our great U.S. glowers.

The Central Scrutinizer and the New Dawn Of Unbridled Censorship

mia-middle-finger-super-bowlDid you watch the Billboard Music Awards Sunday night? Of course not. Who even knew that was happening, let alone burdened themselves to sitting through a celebration of the most corporate bullshit that modern music has to offer? Van Halen did randomly open the show with a killer “Panama,” but only watch it if you’re prepared to see an entire arena’s worth of “music fans” seemingly have no idea what the song or who the band is. So apparently Kanye performed, because we all know he only conforms to the highest degree of artistic integrity with his public appearances. But according to Rolling Stoneover a minute of his five minutes on stage was muted by network censors.

Now sure, the man is known to drop a few swears in his tunes, but to eliminate 20% of his performance is just ludicrous. So let’s think about what would cause the dude on the censor button to go so over the line. Is it because he is personally offended? No. Nor is it because his network higher ups are, nor the authorities, nor even 99.9% of the television viewing audience. The reason whoever the button pusher is went out of control is because he’s been trained to focus on the three asshole women sitting in Kentucky who would flip their lids if they even hear the end of a swear. Even a slight “…ck” and they’d devote their lives to the outrage. The extraneous censorship occurred not because they care about Agatha’ s fear of proximity consonants, they occurred because they are afraid of how Agatha will react. And subsequently, how her reactions will make them look. And since we’ve let political correctness and societal norms of “appropriateness” get so out of control, we’ve now created a new culture of exposure paranoia. This is why Frank Zappa was so adamant about Tipper Gore putting those little parental advisory stickers on cassettes in the early 80’s – not because that act was so horrendous in and of itself, but because it was opening the door to new frontiers of censorship. You didn’t think the role of the central scrutinizer in Joe’s Garage was a joke, did you?

This morning Stereogum pointed out a series of tweets from M.I.A. yesterday regarding her label blocking the release of her new video solely because it’s of an African man dancing. Worried about “cultural appropriation,” they seem to think that honoring the traditions of the Ivory Coast isn’t appropriate for a politically literate artist from Sri Lanka. Is her art even being considered in the equation, or is the fear of over-political correctness trumping anything that has to do with her music? Here’s the one thing that no bigwig seems to understand about censorship – there is something ingrained in human beings that draws us towards the things we are denied. So like right now – I am way more interested in seeing this M.I.A. video now than I would have been if it had just been casually released this morning. Same with kids watching Kanye on Sunday – they’ve essentially told those kids that there are huge passages that they don’t want them to be exposed to. Do you think the majority of those kids are going to accept their imposed ignorance? Heck no – they’re going to watch a Kanye video on Youtube and pay even more attention to the words than they ever did before. And you know what, Kanye is a sly fella, and I’m sure he knew that playing a song that would demand multiple censors would garner him more attention than something without. But the most adverse effect of all of this, is that for most of us who use profanity, it’s not the focus of our language. Sure, you’re thinking that’s an easy thing to say coming from someone who’s very own music site has the word “shit” in it. But part of the reason I named this site what it is, is to point out that in art and in critique of art, putting any limitations on how we present ourselves extinguishes a margin of the soul from our creations. I’m not trying to tell kids they should be dropping shit bombs like it’s their God-granted duty, I’m just trying to point out that they shouldn’t be so concerned with them. And personally, I’m way more offended by excessive uses of “hella” and “on fleek” than I am of a teenager saying “fuck.”

So let’s do our best as proud citizens of planet Earth to eliminate the fear of offense. You should be considerate of your fellow humans and their decisions to expose themselves to what they want to in life, but you shouldn’t have to be afraid of their backlash.

Tom Waits Plays New Farewell Song For Dave On Letterman

tom_waits_letterman_732_555Yesterday – Thursday, May 14, 2015 – was a phenomenal day in the world of music. First off we lost the legendary BB King. The man was 90 years old so it’s not the most depressing thing to happen, but still another marking point to the end of an era. Live At Cook County Jail was one of the first CDs I ever owned, so the sound of Lucille has been a steady thing in my life for nearly all of it. We all wish him a fond farewell into the next realm. In other farewell moments, the Dear Jerry concert took place at Merriweather Post Pavilion, which was either a massive success or a close swing-and-a-miss depending on who you talked to. Having a wide array of artists join together to play Jerry Garcia’s music sounds fantastic, but realizing that they have to switch the band over before each song, and it’s on a Thursday night with a strict curfew at one of the most police-patrolled venues in the country…meh. Continuing the trend of amazing musical send-offs from yesterday, The Edge fell off stage during U2’s gig in Vancouver. He’s fine, so it’s all right to laugh at it.

But on a day of incredible farewells, there was none more amazing than what happened on The Late Show With David Letterman last night. With only four episodes to go before he retires, Dave’s been having some ridiculous line-ups each night, and Thursday was no exception. Al Pacino came out for the Top 10 list, and George Clooney handcuffed himself to Dave for the majority of the show. Then Tom Waits came out for a hilarious interview, and capped it off by playing a brand new song he wrote for Dave. Quite simply, it was literally breathtaking – I watched it with watery eyes and my hands pressed against my face like a three-year-old seeing Big Bird for the first time. And the thing is, I am admittedly not that big of a Tom Waits fan. I have mountains of respect for the man, but I don’t spin his records all too frequently. But that being said, when the guy nails it, he fucking nails it. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the tune, “Take One Last Look,” is a farewell song for someone we still have. So it’s more about moving on than it is about saying goodbye, and there’s a bittersweet joy to that which very few people have been able to capture in song before. Check it out below, and if you’re not enraptured by the opening line of “let’s watch the sun come up in another town,” then you’re a soulless bastard.

The One Track The Fresh Prince Hopes Everybody Forgot About By Now

He's_the_DJEver since Will Smith first hit the scene, he’s been right up there with Reese Witherspoon in top contention for America’s sweetheart. Remember in the late 90’s when he famously proclaimed that he didn’t need to cuss on his albums to sell records? Ahh, how sweet. Seriously though, who actually uses the word “cuss?” Anyway – I’m not sure if anybody has actually ever needed to swear in order to sell albums, but it is true that Big Willie was able to be successful without swearing. But quite frankly, he’s done a lot worse than swear on his records. I’m going to skip right over his ill-fated tango with gangster-rap, and the subsequent women-beating lyrics that doted the horrible track, “You Saw My Blinker.” Instead I’m going to take it back to my old-school jams: 1988’s He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper. 

The cassette was actually the first album I ever bought with my own money, and it seemed so family friendly at the time. My mother was far more concerned about the image on the inside of my Appetite For Destruction tape than of any potential horrors that the Fresh Prince could introduce me to. “Parents Just Don’t Understand?” C’mon – I rapped it at my 3rd grade variety show. But then there was that cut that opened up side two: “Live At Union Square (November 1986).” While it may have been my first introduction to the powers of a live DJ scratching, it was also my first introduction to rampant homophobia. Let’s all take a second to review this wonderful passage of crowd-hyping:

I want everybody out there that’s ugly
All the ugly people be quiet
All the filthy, stinky, nasty people be quiet
All the homeboys that got aids be quiet
All the girls out there that don’t like guys, be quiet
Hold on, wait a minute
All the girls that don’t like guys be quiet

Yeah, you read that correctly – “all the homeboys that got aids be quiet.” Now sure, this was early enough on in the aids epidemic that the disease was fairly misunderstood by the general population, but still… Not only is he calling out lesbians, he’s calling out guys dying of a terrible, debilitating disease. I’m surprised by two things – one is that he hasn’t had this track removed from digital forms of the album, and two is that he’s never publicly apologized for it. I guess we’re just all trying to sweep it under the rug. It’s kind of like how we don’t talk about John Lennon beating his first wife. Or maybe it’s still there to remind us of how far we’ve come in 30 years. Not only does it show us that even the most righteous warrior has a history of disgust, but it serves as a testament to the levels of understanding and acceptance that we’ve all achieved as a society in the past few decades. Either way, I remember being shocked by it when I was 8 years old – enough so that the audio quote still pops into my head every so often. So maybe chalk me up to being part of the first generation of kids that were ingrained with an instinctual knack for social tolerance. “Live At Union Square” is a key footnote in the history of America’s social development and it deserves to be remembered for what it is and from whence it came. Check out the extended version below for no other reason than to hear DJ Jazzy Jeff crush it on the ones and twos. Cut to 2:20 for the hype rant.

More Hypocritical Firing – Dickey Betts From The Allman Brothers or Vulvatron From Gwar?

zzzzzzzzzzzzvuIt was announced this morning that Gwar is firing their new lead singer, Vulvatron. Sporting enormous fake breasts that shotgunned blood out of the nipples, the front-woman was brought into the mix last year after founding member Oderus Urungus died of a heroin overdose. Now while the band’s official statement claims there is no ill will and that the actual human portraying Vulvatron “just isn’t what [they] needed in the character,” the real story seems to be that she got fired for drinking too much. Kim Dylla, the woman behind Vulvatron posted a long statement on her facebook account last Friday. To sum up her post, she claims the band told her in January that her character would not be continuing in the Gwar storyline in the near future, but that she may be included in other gigs beyond that. She seemed fine with that, until finding out last week via the internet that the band would still be using the Vulvatorn character – just without Kim portraying her. Obviously upset at the loss of her own creation, Kim has been hearing through different media outlets that the band is citing her drinking as the main reason for her departure. In her own words: “I tried my best and people liked it. I think Brockie would have been proud. Yes, I drink beer. Almost every day. Find me a group of metal musicians who think that is weird. No, I don’t perform incapacitated and never have. Yes, I can handle my shit. No, I don’t do drugs. Yes, I broke my rib and kept singing through the rest of the set and the crowd never noticed. No, I didn’t break it because I was drunk, I broke it because I elbow dropped the wrong part of the Mr. Perfect costume trying to put on a good show.”

Gwar has a long history of debauchery, and to fire the new girl behind her back primarily because you think she has one too many pre-show beers is not only hypocritical, it’s cowardly. If they had said something along the lines of “our founding member just died of heroin so we’re trying to keep things as clean as possible around here,” that’d be one thing. But by all accounts, sobriety is still an uncommon thing on the Gwar scene, and they just fired the poor woman out of shameless disdain. And the fact that they’re still using the character she created without letting her know, just adds another smack to the face. Now if you’re like me, this sounds like the cartoonish metal version of the scenario that happened with Dickey Betts and The Allman Brothers in 2000.

I wrote in the Fall about how rare of a situation it is for a band to fire a member but keep all of their inter-band creations front and center. And in terms of ABB, it’s a scenario much akin to this Vulvatron one. Inter-band tensions had been a regular part of the ABB scene for decades, and in 2000 they told the press that Betts had taken too much control of the band. In my mind, claiming that the surviving lead guitarist of the band had too great of a role is an odd thing to say, and thus it made much more sense when the behind-the-scenes word came out that they parted ways because his drinking was out of control. But much like this Gwar case, how much is too much? And depending on whose story you want to believe, too much could be very little at all. But in Betts’ case, his firing came five years after Greg Allman finally achieved sobriety, so in Greg’s eyes any amount of drinking was probably too much drinking. But sending your founding member on his way solely because he’s been doing things the exact same way he’s been doing them for the first 30 years of your band’s existence is a bitch move. I give a lot of respect to Jimmy Herring in this scenario as he joined the band in 2000, but then quit because he felt too guilty about taking Dickey’s spot.

So Vulvatron or Betts – whose firing is more of a hypocritical move? It’s really tough to say without having all the specific details in each case – which we will never have because each story varies greatly depending on who is telling it. But I’m gonna stick to my guns here and say Betts’s departure is the more hypocritical one, while Vulvatron’s is the more cowardly – and in my mind they’re both dick moves by each band.

Photo credit: Swimfinfan