Friday, September 30, 2016

September 30 - The Grand Conjuration

Today I will be spending listening to Opeth's 12th studio album Sorceress. Opeth has travelled long distances musically, and the song that really got me into Opeth is a far cry from what they do these days. I do expect to play more music from Sorceress as well, but for now, I am going to let you hear Opeth with all the growled vocals (as well as the clean vocals they used to mix in). I sometimes struggle with what some people refer to as "cookie monster" vocals, but think that Opeth was able to do something really good with it (they have not been using it on their last three albums including Sorceress) - and The Grand Conjuration is really a great example of how they blend the two to great effect. The Grand Conjuration is from their 8th album (or observation), Ghost Reveries, which I picked up after seeing it at Meijer. It seems weird now that almost all music is out of the supermarkets that it could be a place to discover new music, but it was indeed where I first saw the cover that intrigued me. Then when I searched for the music online, this is what I listened to:

Thursday, September 29, 2016

September 29 - After The Goldrush

So today will be a day when there isn't necessarily a connection between the song and what I write about, but I would be so remiss if I didn't talk a little bit about family. I have been blessed with a great family to grow up in - lots of cousins and aunts and uncles, and they are all simply great people. I had three cousins who were born the same year as me, and I was close with all three of them. I spent a lot of time with both of my male cousins every summer: Johnny lived right next door to my grandma, and when I went there for a week or so every summer, we would hang out together just about all the time. Stein lived at Ski, about 8 hours away - but he would come and spend time with my grandma and grandpa, and I was usually invited along to hang out - and we had a lot of good times.

And then there was Beate. She was my mom's younger sister's firstborn, and her birthday was exactly 6 months apart from mine - and that just happens to be today. My aunt Bjørg and my mom were more than just sisters - they were best friends. Bjørg and her husband Ivar both lived in Trondheim when I was first born - so some of the first pictures of me with a kid my age by my side are with Beate. After Bjørg and Ivar moved to Røyken, which also is about 8 hours away from Trondheim, we didn't see them as often, but when we did, there was always a really special bond between Beate and I. Easter vacations at Brekken in the mountains, summer visits at their house in Røyken, and visits at my grandma's house all helped maintain this bond.

Which brings us to today - and yes, I fast forwarded through a lot of years there. Her brother, Torgeir, now lives in California, so my mom and Bjørg share the curse of having their son in the United States with grandchildren. And then I have Beate. I am really thankful for her. I was so very excited to have her come and visit me a few years back with her family - and her son Robbie and Alison got along really well during soccer camp that summer. And I get care packages - candy and books and cookies. Pieces of home. I am never good enough at thanking her for it, so I am letting today be a very public thank you and acknowledgment of how much I appreciate her and our relationship.

I decided on a beautiful song in an even more beautiful version. I loved Neil Young's original version of this song, but I just purchased The Complete Trio Collection with Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, and Dolly Parton - and what a version they recorded for Trio II from 1999. It's a shame this passed me by earlier, because this is quite the gem. Happy birthday, Beate!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

September 28 - The Wilde Flowers

One of my favorite bands is Swedish band Opeth. They are about to release a new album on Friday, and they have been controlling the output of songs, one by one, from the album. The third sample is the one that really hit me hardest. The Wilde Flowers has a riff to die for, staccato vocals, and then the eerie Opeth twist that elevates the song even higher. The title itself is per normal for Opeth a reference to obscure progressive music, as The Wilde Flowers was a British progressive band from the Canterbury scene. I am excited for Friday - looking forward to what I hope is another great record. They haven't disappointed me yet...

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

September 27 - Happy Together

In 1971, Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention were still only called the Mothers, and they included two singers who had known great success with the band The Turtles, Mark Volman (Flo, The Phlorescent Leech) and Howard Kaylan (Eddie - they were later known simply as Flo and Eddie). The Turtles had one massive hit with the song Happy Together, and when Flo and Eddie joined The Mothers, the song found its way into their shows. It was performed at Fillmore East in June of 1971, and found its way onto the live recording from that show - and I absolutely love this version - it always gets me in good mood...

And as a bonus - here is some live footage from a Dutch Frank Zappa documentary:

Monday, September 26, 2016

September 26 - And She Was

There's never a bad time to play some Talking Heads - and my excuse today is the animated movie Storks, a movie that's worth watching for all the wolf pack gags alone (and no, I won't give anything away - it's worth watching). In the middle of the movie, a well known riff popped up, and I had to control myself to not join in and sing out loud as David Byrne led the Talking Heads in And She Was.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

September 25 - Freewheel Burning

Today I just feel like burning off some musical energy, so turn the volume to 11 and enjoy Judas Priest. I should add, do. It consume this next song while driving. You WILL feel your foot on the gas get heavy, and you WILL experience speeds faster than the set speed limits. You WILL experience the full force of Frewheel Burning.m

Saturday, September 24, 2016

September 24 - Bending Light

Today, it will be all about dynamics - and shouted/screamed vocals. This is definitely not going to be for everyone, but I've enjoyed Neurosis and their musical universe since being told about them at Vertigo, my favorite little record store. Yesterday they released a new album Fires Within Fires, and the opening track, Bending Light, blew me away.

Friday, September 23, 2016

September 23 - The Ballad Of Dwight Fry

Today's song is once again played because of my middle school music teacher, Reidar Fiske. He allowed students in his class to give music presentations, and I think I did more than one, but the one I remember is the one I gave on Alice Cooper. The reason I remember it is about as nerdy as I am - it was the first time I was told about the conditional verb tense. One of Alice Cooper's later songs is I Wish I Were Born In Beverly Hills, which I proudly pointed out to be a grammatical error before Fiske set me straight and explained why.

I really like Alice Cooper - and really prefer the era when they were a band and not just the name of a person. There are many highlights, but my favorite is The Ballad of Dwight Fry.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

September 22 - Vertigo

So vertigo has knocked me a little off my feet since Tuesday. A constant dizziness is not something to strive for. While I wait for the room to stop spinning, I might as well spin a song. How about some U2? After all, they do have a song called Vertigo...

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

September 21 - I'm Mandy, Fly Me

Since I talked a little bit about Graham Gouldman yesterday as the songwriter for Herman's Hermits, I thought it appropriate to talk a little bit about what he is most known for: 10CC. 4 seasoned multi-instrumentalists, songwriters, and session musicians who got together to form a spectacular pop band that merged the artsy duo of Kevin Godly and Lol Creme with the pop sensibilities of Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart.

My middle school music teacher, Reidar Fiske, was never missing an opportunity to talk about 10CC as if they were some modern era Mozart or something like that. Whatever it was, I wasn't buying it. Sure, Dreadlock Holiday was a great song, and I'm Not In Love was a great ballad, but I wasn't quite sold on them as a band. Fast forward 30 years, and I will often play their Greatest Hits in my car with Alison, who really likes Rubber Bullets. I, on the other hand, really like today's song, I'm Mandy, Fly Me. So thanks, Reidar Fiske. You really knew what you were talking about in music class!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

September 20 - No Milk Today

The other single that really caught my eye in my parents' single collection did so because of the name. I mean, who writes a song about not drinking milk? That was what I thought they meant when they called the song No Milk Today - but when I started listening to the lyrics, I heard a much more profound song about lost love. It was written by a great songwriter, Graham Goldman, who went on to form 10CC, and produced and arranged by John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin fame.

In the US, the B side was the highlighted song. There's A Kind of Hush reached #4 - while No Milk Today only got to #35. Personally, I find There's A Kind of Hush to schmaltzy, while No Milk Today is a stellar pop song.

Monday, September 19, 2016

September 19 - Friday On My Mind

Today I am going to stay in my parents' single collection. I loved exploring the songs, and one of the songs was intriguing both because of its title and the band name. The Easybeats were an Australian led by Harry Vanda and George Young, the latter being the older brother of AC/DC guitarists Malcolm and Angus Young. I was very excited when I later found out that the early AC/DC albums were produced by the duo behind one of my favorite 60s rock songs, Friday On My Mind, which seems to be a great way to start the working week. It has been covered by David Bowie, Gary Moore, and Richard Thompson, to name a few - but the original is still best.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

September 18 - Ticket To Ride

Last Friday, there was a "new" release by The Beatles - a remastered version of their Live At Hollywood Bowl, originally released in 1977. The new version accompanies the new movie, 8 Days A Week, which has Ron Howard exploring their touring years, which ended 50 years ago, in 1966. The sound on the recording is very dominated by screaming girls - and the booklet has news stories from the time of the concert that helps put things in perspective. It is also very moving to read George Martin's original liner notes - it so clearly shows his genuine affection and appreciation for his"boys."

When I listened to Ticket To Ride from the Hollywood Bowl, I was once again struck by Ringo's drumming, how he is consistently just behind the beat on his toms during the verse. It is there in other versions as well, such as the one from the Beatles Anthology vol. 2. Ringo is often maligned, but the truth is that his drumming, largely self-taught, was an important aspect of their sound, and Ticket To Ride really shows this.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

September 17 - Big Empty

Today's song is a departure from the last three days. I discovered Stone Temple Pilots in 1994, when I went to the movies to see the movie The Crow. It was a pretty good comic book adaptation - and it got infamous because the lead, Brandon Lee, son of kung fu movie legend Bruce Lee, died during the filming of the movie. If I remember correctly, he was shot with a prop gun that wasn't exactly loaded with the blanks it was supposed to be. But the soundtrack. Oh the soundtrack. The Cure, Rollins Band, Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against The Machine, Helmet, Pantera... Oh yes, it was good. It was THAT good. And then, in the midst of goth, heavy metal, and industrial rock, there is this little acoustic gem by a band called Stone Temple Pilots.

They were never quite as big in Norway as I understand they were in the States, although they had reasonable success back home as well (their best selling album, Purple, reached #1 here, but only # 11 in Norway). The song was Big Empty. It might not be the best known song from the album Purple, which is where it ended up on their regular releases - Interstate Love Song and Vasoline were certainly bigger hits - but it certainly was able to showcase the exquisite vulnerability in Scott Weiland's voice, the sensibility of his lyrics, and a wonderful melody. To me, for some reason, this is desert music. I feel like I am in a warm, dry place, laid back and relaxed - and just enjoying the moment. I hope you will enjoy it with me.

Friday, September 16, 2016

September 16 - Into The Sun

In 1993, just as I was getting into Motorpsycho, they released a split single with another Trondheim band called Hedge Hog. I liked Hedge Hog well, and I knew one of the members and had friends who knew other members in the band (although Trondheim is Norway's third largest city, it's still pretty small), so I was very interested in both songs. Hedge Hog was a pretty good little band, but they didn't gain enough traction and I believe they eventually folded. Their song was solid - but Motorpsycho delivered a cover of a song called Into The Sun. I didn't know the original, but I eventually figured out it was by American Band Grand Funk Railroad.

It wasn't until recently I decided to track down the original. I liked the power and snappiness of it, so I thought it might be on their greatest hits collection. Nope. The live album Caught In The Act? Nope. But it was on Live Album - and what a version it is. That version is the song of the day - a great lead-in to the weekend.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

September 15 - Stay With Me

After having been introduced to The Small Faces and both their phases (the Decca years were considerably rawer in sound than the Immediate Years), I was very surprised to realize what happened next. Steve Marriott, who at times belted it out like Robert Plant and played a mean guitar, decided it was time to leave The Small Faces to start a new band with, among others, Peter Frampton. The new band was Humble Pie - but it also left the rest of the Small Faces wondering what to do next. Enter Ron Wood and Rod Stewart, who no longer were playing with Jeff Beck, and voila, you have a new line-up. Except the music changed quite significantly, so to distinguish themselves from The Small Faces, they dropped the "Small" from their name and became The Faces - the most rickety jangly little bar band you can imagine (even more so than The Band and Neil Young's Crazy Horse). Their music is so loose when they play it that it sounds like a miracle that they start and end at the same time. But that is also what makes it so good - and rather more complicated than it sounds.

After just having listened to today's song again, I couldn't stop listening to Ronnie Lane's bass. His basslines are out of this world - and I came to the conclusion that as much as I like the other members of The Faces - and Ronnie Wood is an incredible guitarist in his own right - the secret sauce is really Ronnie Lane. Much like John Paul Jones is the unsung glue that kept Led Zeppelin together, Ronnie Lane does it for Faces. Also listen to the tempo changes in today's song. It's just so great. And Rod Stewart can sing. I'll give him that. He grew older and boring - but in his 60s and 70s output I am really amazed by what he did. Please enjoy Stay With Me

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

September 14 - Sha-la-la-la-lee

This week is turning into quite the hodgepodge of songs, as today I am heading into the 60s, more specifically 1966. The Small Faces was a band led by Steve Marriott on guitar and vocals and Roonie Lane on bass - and with drummer Kenney Jones, who joined The Who after the untimely death of Keith Moon, and keyboardist Ian McLagan.

At one point in my early teenage years, I found my parents' (mostly my mom's) old single collection. It was a spindle with probably 50 singles or so, and I resolved to hear them all. There were singles by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Mannfred Mann, and Herman's Hermits - and then there was The Small Faces. The first part of their career, they were signed to Decca, and they cultivated a rawer sound than on their later years on Immediate Records. There was a single from the Immediate years there Itchykoo Park - an then there was today's song, which I immediately took a liking to. That song was today's song. From 1996, here is Sha-la-la-la-lee.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

September 13 - Carmen

Today's song is a treat. The Norwegian guitar player Marius Müller is indeed a Norwegian legend. His talents as a guitar player should have been known well outside Norway - he plays like Jimi Hendrix and Mark Knopfler had a son, with the finger picking of Knopfler and the sensibility of Hendrix when his guitar roars, and it will.

I remember 1981, when he first entered the Norwegian music scene with the single Den Du Veit (The One You Know). I was a big kid (at least I felt that way), and here he was, a big and burly bona fide rock star (in Norwegian context, that is). he made me think that it was possible to become a rock star even if you weren't the most popular or best looking boy around, and I needed that. Granted, I never became a rock star - but that had more to do with a lack of dedication to any of the aspects needed than looks.

But Marius Müller was dedicated. He was a true great, and he made me believe in the possibility of becoming a rock star (actually I was more interested in the musician aspect than the star part). I never saw him live, and that is one of my great regrets. I came close once, but the friends I was with that evening weren't too interested, so we never went to the show in Orkanger (where my mom was born). In 1999 it was all over. I heard the news sitting in a car at Valentinlyst, close to where I heard him on the radio for the first time. He had passed away in a car accident. He was 41 years old. Here is his best song - and one of the best Norwegian songs ever: Carmen.

This alternate version has an interview with him as well, but it's well worth listening to, as his guitar is scorching:

Monday, September 12, 2016

September 12 - I Need You

Nick Cave's new album is haunting. His vocals are vulnerable, and his lyrics are raw, dripping with emotions. 2016 is quite the year for brooding albums about death. First we have David Bowie's Blackstar, and now we have Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds' Skeleton Tree. I Need You is yet another example of the greatness of Skeleton Tree, following Jesus Alone from Friday.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

September 11 - Let Love Rule

My apologies, because today's posting might get a little long. I guess that's about time as well after a series of pretty short ones. Let me first start by taking full responsibility for 9/11. No, not 9/11/2001, but 9/11/1971. 45 years ago today, my parents got married. 45 years is a long time. A very long time. Actually, it's such a long time that I can't even remember that far back. Maybe because I wasn't born yet - but that is a minor detail.

Anyway, I do take full responsibility for the wedding - at least for the date of it. The astute reader might remember that I turned 44 in March - and for those of you who are as weak in math as I am in biology, that makes me -6.5 months on the day of my parent's wedding day. And although I am weak in biology, I do know that the human gestational period is 9 months, which means that I was a fetus of about 2.5 months when my mom walked down the aisle to marry my dad (as far as I know, no shotguns were involved).

But the story of my parents doesn't start there - nor does it end there. On their 30th anniversary, in 2001, they were supposed to be flying home to Norway after a visit to my new home in Michigan, but my dad suffered a heart attack and was a little too busy recovering from a triple bypass to make it over. I should say that they were scheduled to fly out of the US on the 10th, so they would have missed the aftermath of the attacks, but I believe they might have been at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam on the 11th.

I remember the morning of September 11 very clearly. MCC's Student Services had a staff meeting in the newly opened M-TEC building in Greenville. I was still new to MCC - I had started July 1 as a part time employee, but was made a full time employee in the wake of retirements and restructuring. Part of my job was to manage the schedule of Jim Lucka, who was one of the two counselors there at the time. I don't know how he got to have a reputation - at least by our work study at the time - of being a slightly gruff person, because he never was to me. In the staff meeting, he made it a point to thank the hiring committee for having made a great decision in hiring me. I am not saying this to brag, but because it was one of those things that I clearly needed to hear at that point - I wasn't very sure of myself professionally yet, and hearing it from him really made a difference to me.

As time went on that academic year, I started staying back after work some times, chatting with Jim, and discovering with every conversation more and more that I wanted to get into counseling. In many ways - and in subtle ways - Jim helped me discover college counseling as a profession and rediscover counseling as a vocation, because that what it is to me. I once told him that I planned to take his position when he retired, but instead I got the other counseling position at MCC, as he retired not long after I had started working as a counselor at Grand Rapids Community College and thought it too soon to apply for another job. As a matter of fact, I even thought it a little too soon to apply the year later, when the job I currently hold became open, but that time I still did and I landed my dream job.

But that little comment of Jim's, the comment that would have made me remember the day if not the date, was soon to be overshadowed by news reports that a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Then another plane into the other tower. And the Pentagon. And then the aftermath, which we still are experiencing. The fear of muslims in the United States really originated with those attacks, and it is nourished not only by extremists who keep conducting acts of terror, but also by the hatred we see by some very significant political figures.

I just saw a quote of Martin Luther King, jr that I think is important to remember (only the third and fourth lines were quoted, but I like the fuller version):

Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.
Hate multiplies hate,
violence multiplies violence,
and toughness multiplies toughness
in a descending spiral of destruction

I won't dwell more on the events of September 11, 2001, because I would much rather celebrate September 11, 1971. Like I said, 45 years is a long time, and while they have had their ups and downs, they are still together. More than that, watching them together now, I notice things that I didn't notice before. Like the way they sometimes look at one another - especially if the other isn't looking. Or the way they both were talking about when they first met (my mom correcting my dad - as usual). The subtle ways they show their love for one another may have been lost in the daily grind of work and raising a family in the past - or maybe I was to consumed with myself to notice - but it is certainly showing now that they are retired and have more time to one another. The way they choose to spend their time together - even if they are just in the same room reading a book - shows how they indeed cherish their time together.

That they are great parents as well will have to be covered later, as today is all about love. About the love they have for one another, about the love I have for my profession and job, and about how we need to turn to love rather than hate, especially when it is counter to our instinct. But most of all it is about the love my parents have for one another - and the love I have for them both. Lenny Kravitz' first album was called Let Love Rule, and the title track is simply awesome. Happy 45th anniversary, mom and dad!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

September 10 - You Keep Me Hangin' On

Today's song is my favorite version of this classic song. I had my formative years during the 80s, so Kim Wilde's version was the first I heard, followed by The Supremes' original version. Both versions were pretty good pop songs, but I didn't hear the majestic potential in the song before I heard Vanilla Fudge's version of You Keep Me Hangin' On from their debut album from 1969. Their debut album only had original interludes - but the way they approached the arrangements of the cover versions that filled both sides of the album. You Keep Me Hangin' On starts side 2, and oh, what a version this is...

Friday, September 09, 2016

September 9 - Jesus Alone

The first track released from Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds' new album Skeleton Tree was the haunting Jesus Alone. The rest of the album is out today, and if Jesus Alone is any indication of what to expect from it, we're in from a treat. After losing his son Arthur in a tragic fall from a cliff in Brighton, where Cave lives, it is no surprise that the theme of life, death, love, and religion is front and center. Watch the bearded Warren Ellis conduct strings - and be warned: This may cause goosebumps!

Thursday, September 08, 2016

September 8 - Stella Maris

Tomorrow Nick Cave releases his album The Skeleton Tree, and today I am playing a song featuring one of the original members of Nick Cave's band The Bad Seeds. Blixa Bargeld formed Einstürzende Neubauten in 1980 as one of the early industrial bands. In 1996, while he was still a member of The Bad Seeds as well, they released Ende Neu, which is where today's song is taken from. Blixa Bargeld left Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, where he had played guitar and sung, in 2003, but he is still a member of Einstürzende Neubauten.

Todays song was written with his then wife, Meret Becker, who also sings and appears in the video. As usual, rhythm is central in this song, but this time it is the bouncing syllables that creates the rhythm in this beautiful song. Watch Blixa Bargeld and Meret Becker sing Stella Maris. And yes, the English translation of the lyrics is included.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

September 7 - Peaches En Regalia

Some days the music can do the talking. Today is one of those days. In 1969, Frank Zappa released Hot Rats, which included today's song, Peaches En Regalia. No more words - just listen...

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

September 6 - Mountain Song

My good friend Sissel brought a wealth of new music when she returned from a year stateside in 1990. One of the bands she introduced me to was Jane's Addiction. Led by the very dynamic duo of Perry Farrell on vocals and Dave Navarro on guitar, the classic lineup was completed by Stephen Perkins on drums and Eric Avery on bass. Their first album was a fairly eclectic live recording with lots of acoustic guitars an percussion, but when they went into a proper recording studio for their second album, things really took off.

I've never been one for the night life and clubs and discos (they were popular as I hit legal drinking age - although I still didn't drink). However, I loved Studentersamfundet in Trondheim. Their main stage was the place for several of my most memorable concerts, including my first Motorpsycho concert, but in the basement they had the Bodega, which often played more alternative music than most clubs. That's where I first heard Eric Avery's rolling bass riff before it is shattered by the rest of the band coming in together. Mountain Song truly socked me in the gut - and it still does. After this, Nothing's Shocking.

Monday, September 05, 2016

September 5 - Black Muddy River

I didn't know Norma Waterson when my friend Thomas introduced me to her. As a huge Richard Thompson fan - and a connoisseur of folk music - he had picked up her first solo album featuring her husband and daughter Martin and Eliza Carthy, Roger Swallow on drums, and tasteful guitar and bass from Richard and Danny Thompson (no relations). The opening track, Black Muddy River, was originally on Grateful Dead's album In The Dark from 1987. It is breathtaking in Norma Waterson's version.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

September 4 - Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Today's song is not a rebel song. And that's according to Bono, from the introduction he gives to the song on their 1983 live album Under A Blood Red Sky. The song Sunday, Bloody Sunday was the defining song of U2s early career - the snare drum, the feedback, The Edge's soaring guitar - and a very simple riff build around a D chord - the sometimes bouncing bass lines, and Bono's pipes.

"I can't believe the news today
I can't close my eyes and make them go away"

That's how you catch an audience wanting more - wanting to know what these news are all about. This is where U2 really started getting more socially and politically aware with their most overtly political song to that point. The main question still remains, though: "How long must we sing this song?"

Saturday, September 03, 2016

September 3 - Leather

In 1992, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden made Seattle the center of the world - and the world was ruled by grunge. And in the midst of all that, a skinny redhead from Baltimore and her piano had the audacity to cover the international grunge anthem Smells Like Teen Spirit. I loved that version - but that was not what made me listen to Tori Amos. I remember my first meeting with her music vividly. I was visiting my friend Leif, who told me I needed to listen to this - then he played me the song Leather from her Little Earthquakes album. I was hooked by the opening lines:

"Look I'm standing naked before you
Don't you want more than my sex
I can scream as loud as your last one
But I can't claim innocence. "

I am still blown away by those lines - she shows an unapologetic display of female sexuality without being vulgar. It's a song well worth listening to.

Friday, September 02, 2016

September 2 - Witch Hunt

I love Rush. I mean really love them. And my favorite Rush album is undoubtedly Moving Pictures - which makes it even better that when I finally got to see them live, about 25 years or so after I first started listening to them, they were performing Moving Pictures in its entirety as a part of the Time Machine Tour in 2011. I remember the drive there - it's about 2-2.5 hours away from where I live, and I was warming up with a selection of their music - but making sure that the entire Moving Pictures album was played not just once, but twice - and then again on the way home, completely euphoric. I don't think there are many highs that can compare to the high I get from music, and this concert certainly was a highlight in that respect.

I stumbled across the album at a used record store some time in the mid to late 80s. I got it cheap, and it cemented my appreciation for their music. I was drawn to the obvious songs, such as Tom Sawyer, Red Barchetta, and the instrumental YYZ - but my absolute favorite song was Witch Hunt, which had the intriguing subtitle Part III of Fear. What I didn't know yet at this point was that the other two songs in the trilogy had not yet been written - they came on the next two albums. Part II was The Weapon from the Signals album, and Part I was The Enemy Within from Grace Under Pressure.

The lyrics are unfortunately more appropriate than ever these days - the opening sets the stage and creates the dark foreboding mood that is echoed in the music.

"The night is black
Without a moon
The air is thick and still
The vigilantes gather on
The lonely torch lit hill"

Thursday, September 01, 2016

September 1 - September

So songs about lost love are a staple in many genres - but maybe none more stereotypical than country music. The same year Motorpsycho released double cd/triple lp Timothy's Monster, they also released the soundtrack to the western movie The Tussler, directed by Italian Theo Buhara. The soundtrack was both bluegrass and traditional country inspired Americana - but the movie (and the director) were both imaginary. I remember going to the record store and being shown the cd not quite knowing what to make of it. Luckily I did have the wherewithal to purchase a copy so I am one of the 977 lucky owners of the initial Norwegian pressing of this great album. It was rereleased in 2003 with s boatload of bonus tracks - just in time for the second album - but now the band was dubbed The International Tussler Society.

Ten years had passed since The Tussler arrived when the sophomore album was released. The sound was more sophisticated and polished - and the songs were really strong. One of Bent Sæther's finest lyrical moments comes in the opening lines to the song September:

"Unspoken words were hanging
Like a curtain drawn between us
I woke when you left and slammed the door"

Of course, the poignant question is asked at the end of the chorus: "How come love is always sweeter when it's gone?" I don't believe that it is - but judging from how many talk about their first love with stars in their eyes, I think it is a feeling many people have.