by TOM HALLETT
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." – Jimi Hendrix
SONG OF THE WEEK: “Starting to Hurt” – Ryan Adams
We’re due once again for another of the ‘Dial’s beloved, world-famous Top Five lists, kiddies—so grab yer Mr. Rogers sweaters, yer Sharpies, an’ that embarrassing, personalized notepad Aunt Ethel gave ya for yer last birthday ... in the immortal words of Ben “The Thing” Grimm of Fantastic Four fame, it’s clobberin’ time!!
Hallett’s Top Five Irritating Tunes For Personal Mixes:
(I’ll qualify this by admitting that there are so many irritating, mix-manglin’ tracks out there now that it’d literally take a whole year’s worth of columns to even get through the best of the worst, so I’ve whittled this list down to the five worst that have come up on my computer juke—no small feat, considering I’ve got over 16,000 songs on it—over the past week on random play. Besides, maybe you’ve run out of ideas to throw a well-deserved twist in some anal music buddy’s next super-mix, or there’s an ex lurking in the wings you’d love to drive batty, or maybe you actually LIKE shit like this ... in any case, here’s the—erm—poop.)
“Clowny Clown Clown” – Crispin Hellion Glover. From an
album (The Big Problem) already packed to the gills with absolute ka-ka,
this original track (he brought Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are
Made For Walkin’” to even lower depths than the ooze from whence
it first came) finds the bizarre, disturbing behavior usually displayed by its
author reaching heretofore unknown heights of insanity. If you already hate
clowns, Glover’s repeated refrain of “Clowny Clown Clown”
will surely drive you shrieking into the garage with a length of garden hose
in search of that Long Sweet Sleep. If you simply can’t stand really,
really, really bad songwriting, lines like “I think, deep down / I hated
that clown / But not as much / As Mister Farr / I’m gonna go smoke a cigar
...” will do the job just as well. One can only hope the cigar is laced
with PCP, which might actually bring Glover (who’s a GREAT actor, despite
his hackneyed attempts at musical glory) back around to something close to reality.
Or maybe it’s me who needs a puff ... after all, I’m the one with
this idiotic album on my jukebox ...
2) “Wet Dream” – Kip Adotta. From one of those ubiquitous
Dr. Demento collections (you can always count on ol’ Weird Al to throw
his hat in the ring, even though his shtick stopped being funny right after
“I Love Rocky Road”), this one is surprisingly “blue”
for the Doc (Five insufferable minutes rambling about its author’s endless
underwater romantic endeavors and the troubles those predilections cause him),
but nonetheless contains enough maddening couplets and idiotic double entendres
concerning creatures of the sea to send you screaming into the deep end with
a concrete block tied firmly ‘round your neck. Don’t believe me?
Check it out for yourself, just for the halibut. You’ll sea what I mean,
I squid you not ...
“Stairway To Heaven” – Tiny Tim w/Brave Combo. Yeah, it’s
a sickeningly overplayed piece of petrified dinosaur poo anyway, and sure, Dolly
Parton just covered it and brought back hazy dreams of dope-smoke-filled high
school after-game parties to millions of balding, small-town football legends
who’d been lost in the meantime to the cathartic lyrical genius of Garth
Brooks and Toby Keith, but there’s something just inherently WRONG about
the late Herbert “Tiny Tim” Khaury covering Zep’s mystical
doomsday anthem. Brave Combo do a smash-up, jazzified job musically, but Tim
sounds like he can’t wait to run willy-nilly up the first flight to Valhalla
and leave all this rock hoo-ha in the dust. Hmmm ... didn’t he pass away
in the ELEVATOR at the Minneapolis Woman’s Club? Just something to think
4) “White Christmas” – Guns N’ Roses. Where this
particular slice of Hell’s own birthday cake came from, I’ll never
know. I only know that it kicks off with the sound of old vinyl scritchin’
an’ scratchin’ along the grooves, Axl’s (nearly unrecognizable)
“voice” extruding the first line of the played-out holiday fave,
then BLASTS out, all Slash n’ burn guitars an’ Dizzy Izzy wop-bop-a-lula,
with the former Bill Bailey howlin’, sneerin’ an’ spittin’
his way through his own personal holiday in Hades. Christ on a cross, man, I
hope this is the last Christmas cheer I ever hear from this guy ... hey, A-bomb—maybe
you should put a bucket on yer head, too!!
5) “Der Komissar” – After The Fire. This one brought
on not only an unwelcome series of lurid ’80s flashbacks, but also had
me wondering if I’d finally gone off the deep end once and for all. Hadn’t
FALCO (he of “Rock Me, Amadeus” fame) done this one up as well,
in German? Yep, he did...and his version is superior only in that non-German
speakers aren’t forced to suffer through lyrics like, “chuck ...
chuck ... chuck ... she said babe you know I missed you and Joe and all my funky
friends ... and I got to thinkin’ while she was talkin’ that her
nose it told the story ... when she rides in the subway singin’ don’t
turn around oh oh oh der komissar’s in town ...” AHHHGHHH!!!!
Well, there ya go. Five songs guaranteed to cause havoc, pain, destruction of
mental facilities and probably the early demise of more than one car stereo
after the unsuspecting mix receiver loses all control and literally tears his
or her CD player apart in a vain attempt to unplug the devil’s own jukebox
... heheheh ... glad to be of service!! Me, I’m fixin’ to delete
a whole PASSEL o’ crapola from my comp ... And now on to our regularly
scheduled CD reviews section ...
Never Been Better
Personnel: Matt Marka – Vocals, guitars / Charlie Wilson – Drums
/ John Tallion – Bass / Chris Koza – Keyboards, piano / Emily Dantuma
– Cello / JoAnna James & Larissa Anderson – Backing vocals
Minneapolis has never been short on punch-drunk, punked-up power-pop, and Ada
Jane (formerly known as the Matt Marka Band) is a classic example of just that.
Though their chops could be likened to the slightly shaky, warm rattle of local
peers like Kruddler and Rank Strangers, Never Been Better refines the
microscopic social studies of the former and steers pretty much clear of the
weary/pissed political glare of the latter. Lead singer/guitarist Marka, whose
voice ranges from broken-hearted near-whispers to ear-splitting howls (sometimes
in the same song), manages to keep things interesting all the same.
Kicking off with the self-flagellating, ’Mats-esque (Marka makes no bones
about his influences, even dropping the line “... left of left of the
dial ...” in the song “This Is My Broom”) “You’ll
Never Be Satisfied,” the album immediately establishes its author’s
last-chance-saloon ethic: “You’ll never be satisfied,” he
fairly yowls over an eviscerating Chuck Berry axe riff, “I want your name
on the dotted line ... used to take drugs / Without a prescription / I’m
still a drunk / In moderation...”
“On Your Level” is a different beast altogether. Over refreshing,
cleansing pop licks and dancin’ cymbals, Marka makes a heartfelt lyrical
plea to his chosen lover: “Let us begin, I don’t care when / I’m
underdoggin’ it again / I need a chest to lay my head ...” With
its insta-click pop backbeat, straight forward, romantic lines, and catchy call-and-response
vocals, the track probably best catches both the inherent spirit of crowded
loneliness in these recordings and the live fury possibilities of this outfit.
Wayside” opens with a tiny, trickling tease of keyboard, then dives headfirst
into a warm pool of lover-come-hither rhythms and take-me-down-wherever couplets:
“I just wanted to let you know I miss you / Wherever your sweet high tones
are / Some things just don’t want to be rescued / They enjoy it when the
blow leaves a scar ...” Even the prettiest wink-an-a-nod lyrics on this
album contain at least a grain of damaged, been-hurt-before gravel, as in this
line where our love-scorned protagonist laments his loss (or maybe a loss he
hasn’t even suffered yet but wishes he could) from the sidelines of social
interaction: “A hasn’t been and never will be ...” sighs Marka,
“The bigger the heart the bigger the target / You’re a wreck / You
fall down free ... and all is well at the wayside ...”
Other stand-out cuts here include the ringing, high-lonesome shuffle of “Never
Refuse The Rescue,” which sounds a little like The Geardaddies fronted
by some guy who never got married, had kids and decided to channel Neil Diamond
for a living; the growling, cornered-dog slam of “Show ‘Em Your
Teeth,” and the ravaged album closer “The Queen’s Treatment,”
which could be Ada Jane’s own “Here Comes A Regular,” replete
with sadly droning cello, Marka’s beered-out-and-broken down vocals and
lines like, “Getting by is not so bad, but really living is hard work
to be had / You lost your confidence, you lost your stride / You can’t
see anybody with those bloodshot eyes / And I tell you bub, I was in love /
I tell you bub, I was ...”
All in all, a satisfying collection of hard-n’-soft pop, rock and romantic
razzle-dazzle that should proudly join the ranks of such local stalwarts as
Fat Tuesday, The John Ewing Band, The Magnolias and mid-period ‘Mats on
the Twin Cities’ already full-to-overflowing Wall Of Rock ‘n’
Roll Heartbreakers. Good stuff, gang—I’ll be spreadin’ the
word. You can check out Ada Jane for yourselves live at their official CD Release
party for Never Been Better at the 400 Bar on Sat., Aug. 26. 9 p.m. $6.
21+. For more info, check ‘em out at myspace.com/adajanemusic.
That’s it for me this week, gang. Tune in again next time ’round
for more of the same. Until then—make yer own damn news.
If you have local music info, gigs, CDs you’d like to see mentioned
in this space, or you’d just like to add your own horrifying Mix-Murderers
to my Top 5, send replies to: Tmygunn77764@yahoo.com.