Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Legendary Joy Division/New Order bassist Peter Hook and band The Light are coming to the US to perform Joy Division's seminal album Unknown Pleasures in its entirety. Initially a DJ/Q&A show wherein Hook simply played recorded tracks from the album and told numerous anecdotes from the making of the album and of the times, he has now recruited a full band to help him actually perform the album live.
December 1 Washington, DC 9:30 Club
December 2 Philadelphia, PA Voyeur
December 3 New York, NY Webster Hall
December 4 Boston, MA Royale Nightclub
December 6 Chicago, IL Double Door
December 7 Seattle, WA Showbox At The Market
December 9 Portland, OR Doug Fir
December 10 San Francisco, CA Mezzanine
December 11 Los Angeles, CA The Music Box
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Since we pride ourselves on "transparency", we like to share photos with you from time to time that detail the progress at Knox Avenue as we fine-tune and expand our facility to make it the best damn rehearsal space on the North West Side, if not the entire city!
All photos copyright 2010 Sally Ryan.
On this date in 1966, new Elektra Records signing The Doors began sessions for their debut album at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles.
On this same date in 1975, Queen began recording "Bohemian Rhapody". The tune would take three weeks, and over 180 overdubs, to complete.
In 1981, Mark David Chapman was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the murder of John Lennon.
In 1985, Huey Lewis and the News dominated the airwaves and the pop charts, hitting #1 with "Power Of Love", their theme from the movie "Back To The Future".
In 1996, Oasis singer Liam Gallagher failed to shop up for the band's taping of MTV Unplugged, forcing brother Noel to step in and handle vocal duties. Liam would show up later and watch the band from the audience.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Three Chicago-area bands make the list!
RAMONES/ROCKET TO RUSSIA
Let's face it, anyone wearing a Ramones t-shirt today is, more than likely, a huge poseur. Ask them to name three members of the band and, more than likely, they have to try reading the names off of their t-shirt upside down without looking too obvious. Sadly, three members of this great band are no longer with us, not living long enough to see their music immortalized in movies, commercials, and video games.
When listening to Rocket To Russia today, I am struck by the energy and immediacy of songs such as "Cretin Hop" and "Rockaway Beach". Sure, there was a hard punk exterior, but underneath it was a chewy bubblegum center. How were these songs not hits?!
SEX PISTOLS/NEVER MIND THE BULLOCKS
Yeah, it's an obvious choice, but it's an obvious choice for a very good reason: Bullocks a fantastic album from start to finish. Like the Ramones' Rocket To Russia, it is a pop album at its very core, but, again, the energy and the in-your-face immediacy of the tunes is distinctly punk.
Veteran producer Bill Price was smart enough to not try to push the band to be anything that it wasn't, choosing instead to multi-track Steve Jones' hard driving guitars and to place Paul Cook's pummeling drum work prominently in the mix.
What ultimately gave the Pistols their legendary punk edge, though, was Johnny Rotten's vitriolic vocal style, which served only to heighten the impact of his incendiary lyrics that challenged all cows, sacred and otherwise.
IGGY & THE STOOGES/RAW POWER
I honestly wish I'd been old enough to truly relish how crazy Iggy Pop must have been in 1973, when this album was released. Near as I can tell, the minute he hit a stage or recording studio, he ceased being human and turned into a rabid, cornered dog that saw the stage as his only sanctuary from injustice. I don't much get the Iggy that would later find himself rolling around in broken glass, but on Raw Power, this is 100% unbridled, uh, raw power. Of course, Iggy's great, but what makes this album snap, crackle and pop are the fookin' Stooges, man. To a man, these guys attacked each song with a vigor heretofore unheard.
Of course, the album was so far ahead of its time that, even today, it's considered a bit of an oddity to all but the most discerning rock fans. Admittedly, even those who dig the album seem to have a problem with Bowie's final mix. As a result, a bootleg version of the album featuring Iggy's original mixes was so legendary in bootleg circles that Sony paid Iggy to remix the album for re-release in 1997.
Regardless of which mix you may prefer, this is an album that more than lives up to its title.
Sure, many regard this as the blueprint for industrial music, upon which the likes of Trent Reznor have built an entire career, but this is also an album that proves quite convincingly that you don't need guitars to create a righteous punk racket.
Jourgenson, of course, paid his dues on the Chicago punk scene, so this wasn't disingenuous at all. In fact, only someone with a punk pedigree could have abused synthesizers to such an extent as to create a noise so wonderfully subversive.
CHEAP TRICK/CHEAP TRICK
Sure, there are few UK punk bands with members as hunky as Robin Zander or Tom Petersson circa 1977, but, thanks to Rick Nielsen's goofball nihilism, Cheap Trick's first album is an absolute punk masterpiece disguised as a mildly subversive pop record. It joined every other classic punk album by selling poorly in the US despite universally positive reviews from critics.
The genius of Rick Nielsen was to juxtapose songs about murder, suicide, and male prostitution with the pin-up good looks of Zander and Petersson. If everyone else in the band looked like Nielsen or certified public accountant, er, drummer Bun E. Carlos, there'd have been no mistake about this band's twisted intent.
LORDS OF THE NEW CHURCH/LORDS OF THE NEW CHURCH
Take Dead Boys singer Stiv Bator(s), ex-Damned guitarist Brian James, and the righteous rhythm section of Nicky Turner and Dave Tregunna and you have punk's first (and perhaps only) supergroup. Whereas the sum of most other supergroups never quite adds up to their individual parts, the Lords' first album is an absolutely inspired first effort. Sure, punk was supposed to be dead, with new wave was becoming all the rage, but that didn't stop the Lords from stirring up as much controversy as possible. Stiv, of course, has always worn his adoration for Iggy Pop on his sleeve and teaming up with James was a stroke of genius. Punk finally had its own Mick and Keef and the result was an album that out-shined anything they'd done prior.
JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS/BAD REPUTATION
Don't think this is a punk album? Jett had been left penniless by the breakup of the Runaways and was sleeping on the floor of manager Kenny Laguna's house while recording this album. Upon completion, Jett and Laguna shopped the record to major labels and were turned down repeatedly by every label they approached. They eventually caught a break in the form of Boardwalk Records' executive Neil Bogart, who took a shine to Jett and signed on to release the album. Jett & Laguna, of course, made sure to retain rights to their masters, which, in hindsight, was a stroke of genius. Otherwise, this album (and Jett's career) would have no doubt been tied up in tons of red tape when the label began to falter following Bogart's death in 1982.
All business aside, this is an album that the Ramones would have been proud to have made, showing a supreme love for sixties pop performed at top volume and with more energy than a "runaway" freight train.
JESUS & MARY CHAIN/PSYCHOCANDY
Following the template set by bands like the Pistols and Joan Jett, the brothers Reid took their love for bubblegum hooks and meshed them with a sound that others have tried, but ultimately failed to replicate over the years. On first listen to Psychocandy on that fateful rainy day (how apropos) in the fall of 1986, I literally thought there was something wrong with either the record, or my stereo. The quality of songs like "Just Like Honey" and "Never Understand", though, drew me in and I couldn't stop listening. Before long, I came to adore the irreverent anti-production of the record and, when I caught the band live later that year, they proved their punk-ness by playing for a whopping twenty minutes before leaving the stage in a haze of distortion and spilled beer.
The thing that bugs me the most about the original UK punk phenom is that the scene was soon littered with bands that all sounded alike. It was as if they got the energy of the Ramones and the Pistols, but hadn't been paying attention to how truly original those bands were. They thought all they had to do was spike their hair and be pissed off about who-knows-what.
Wire, on the other hand, unleashed their debut album upon a nation that had embraced punk, but was still challenged by what these four lads from London had to offer.
Containing 21 songs, with six under a minute in length, the album adheres to an ultra-punk aesthetic while, at the same time, using these concise blasts of fury to create a cohesive statement akin to that of a concept album. This isn't merely an album, though, this is a manifesto.
GANG OF FOUR/ENTERTAINMENT
The debut album from England's Gang Of Four was a cold, calculated car-crash of detachment that flipped conventional song structure and melody on its ear. Additionally, the band's themes aren't so much personal as global in nature, giving their songs an energy of being sung not by just one person, but an army. This is an essential album that will alter your reality even some thirty years later.
SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES/THE SCREAM
How can a post-punk album be more punk than most so-called UK punk albums? It can't. That's why I refuse to classify this album as a post-punk record. Siouxsie Sioux had been such an integral cheerleader of the original punk movement that her first foray into the music world could not escape such classification. And thus, The Scream more than lives up to its name by delivering an onslaught of buzz-saw guitars, throbbing bass lines and hypnotic drumming, all combining to create a musical sound that was as much fury and rage as grace and poetry. The band gets bonus points for stealing "Helter Skelter" back from Manson a full decade before U2 claimed to do the same thing.
For a moment, forget the fact that the members of this band have completely lost touch with their roots and not made a truly great record in almost twenty years. Forget that Michael Stipe himself has turned into someone almost unrecognizable from the man who beautifully mumbled his way through this, R.E.M.s, first EP.
What made this and other early R.E.M. records punk was their complete disregard for the unwritten rules that so many other band choose to play by, resulting in a record that lacks any originality whatsoever. The result was a sound comprised of deceptively simple elements that was entirely their own. As a result, the rock world had no other choice but to stand up and take notice. Sure, the masses couldn't be bothered, but discerning rock fans and critics knew that what they were listening to was history in the making.
GO-GO's/BEAUTY AND THE BEAT
I reserve a fully extended middle finger for anyone who doubts the punk pedigree of this all-female L.A. band. That they were teamed with sixties bubblegum producer Richard Gottehrer was an absolute stroke of genius, as he was able to work with the band's musical limitations to create an album that played so perfectly upon their strengths.
Signing to Miles Copeland's IRS Records label was as punk a move as any band could make circa 1981. Up to that point, IRS had been unsuccessful at breaking any band in the US. That Beauty & The Beat would become their first #1 record was a feat nobody on earth could have seen coming. Of course, the band would quickly adopt a more clean-cut, wholesome image in order to maintain their popularity, forever leaving behind the band that created this American punk masterpiece.
So-called punk purists consider original singer Jack Grisham to be the punk heart of this Orange County band, but, to my ears, TSOL only became a contender after his departure. The proof, of course, is in the pudding and, in the case of Flowers, this is some tasty, albeit jagged pudding.
While Grisham certainly had the nihilistic punk act down pat, the songs themselves never seemed to be anything more than a mere afterthought. By contrast, Change Today? is the work of an entirely new - and focused - band that creates tale upon tale of teenage rage and alienation.
MINUTEMEN/DOUBLE NICKELS ON THE DIME
While I personally found this band unlistenable and hard to look at, it would be selfish of me to deny just how influential the Minutemen were. Truth be told, there are many whose idea of punk begins and ends with the Minutemen, whereas I have always seen them as a flannel-sporting jam band, albeit one who plays most tunes at breakneck speed as if eager for the song to end.
BLACK FLAG/LOOSE NUT
While the drumming of Bill Stephenson keeps this album from being an all-out stunner, this was Black Flag at their absolute creative peak. The band had so much material from these sessions that another album, In My Head, was released a mere six months later. With songs like "Now She's Black", "Annihilate This Week" and the anthemic title track, Black Flag seemed poised to jump to the next level, which would have no doubt caused many of their fans to cry "Sell out!". Sadly, a mere year after this album's release, the band would cease to exist.
THREE O'CLOCK/BAROQUE HOEDOWN
While spawned as a reaction to the bloated excess of rock in the early-to-mid 70's, the best punk records have always drawn from sixties pop, In the case of L.A.'s Three O'Clock and their debut EP, Baroque Hoedown, the source wasn't so much bubblegum as psychedelia, giving the band their own private corner of the punk rock pie. Of course, this wouldn't last long, as their sound would inspire an entire L.A. movement that Three O'Clock singer Michael Quercio would later dub the Paisley Underground.
They'd later go on to cut two record for IRS and one for Prince's Paisley Park label, but none were as furiously inspired as this supersonic storybook of a debut.
THE CLASH/LONDON CALLING
I'm gonna be completely honest with you, readers, I initially spaced on The Clash. I have adored this band for so long. Heck, I even got to spend a couple hours in an airport lounge with Joe Strummer, during which time he turned me from someone who merely respected the man to someone who would have donated my doggone heart to save the guy. London Calling is one solid mother of an album, so full of ace songs that you almost forget that the band pounding out the jams is one of the defining bands of the entire punk movement. One of the things Joe told me was that they distanced themselves from the word "punk" as fast as they could because they knew they had to do so if they wanted to make it in America. They, of course, went on to make it in America and the rest as they say is history.
Many so-called punk purists seem to severely underestimate Chicago's contribution to the punk pantheon. In the mid-80's, though, there was no place on earth doing it better than the Windy City. To this day, bands such as Naked Raygun, Jesus Lizard, the Effigies, and Big Black remain some of the most sorely overlooked punk acts of all time.
Atomizer, Big Black's first full-length (which, quite sadly, is now available only as part of The Rich Man's Eight-Track Tape compilation, dropping one song), is as abrasive and confrontational as punk gets. Steve Albini, all 85 pounds of him, is a railing presence who gets off on challenging your preconceptions. Song subjects range from molestation ("Jordan, Minnesota") to pyromania ("Kerosene"), presented in such a manner that even the most brazen listener is left shuddering in their shell if they dwell on the lyrics too long. The pile-driver assault of the band's music finishes you off like a fist through concrete.
THE CRAMPS/SONGS THE LORD TAUGHT US
There are few bands more uniquely familiar yet altogether original than The Cramps. Blending high-octane rockabilly with songs about werewolves, zombies and outerspace, they were an integral part of the mid-70s CBGB punk scene and created a gem of a punk statement on their debut effort, produced by the legendary Alex Chilton.
In the letter Chilton's widow wrote to be read at the Chilton tribute/Big Star show at 2010's SXSW Music Festival, she stated that, for all of his musical accomplishments, he remained truly proud of his work with the Cramps. Just as Gottehrer had done for the Go-Go's, Chilton embraces the band's many idiosyncrasies and somehow finds a way for them to congeal into one wonderfully gloppy mess of rockabilly, psychedelia and just plain madness.
Sadly, singer Lux Interior passed away in early 2009, thereby bringing to an end one of the more delightfully raunchy punk bands of all time.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Call me crazy, but I only use public restrooms when I absotively, posilutely have to do so. Having rehearsed at other places in town, I can tell you quite unequivocally that I would sooner drive the fifteen or so miles home after rehearsal, bladder bursting at the seams, than use what passes for a restroom at most of those other rehearsal places.
I mean, some of those restrooms make a gas station bathroom that hasn't been cleaned since the '70s look positively divine by comparison.
Hence, we come to Reason #325 For Bands To Rehears At Knox:
The bathrooms are brand-spankin' new. And tastefully decorated, to boot. I'd go so far as to say that a few of them have yet to be peed in yet. Just as your band could be the very first one to occupy your rehearsal space at Knox, you could be the first one to take a raging domestic beer-whiz in one of the fine restrooms at Knox.
The doors to the stalls not only close, but they lock securely.
There's no scribbled poetry on the walls and, as we go to press, there are no cartoon depictions of either the male or female anatomy. I dunno about you, but that's a plus in my book.
So, there you have it; another great reason to haul your ass - and your band gear - over to Knox Avenue PRONTO.
Call Greg at 773-685-KNOX (6559) and tell him Weezy sent ya!
On this date in 1962, Ringo Starr makes his performing debut with the Beatles after a two-hour prep rehearsal.
On this exact same date two years later, the Beatles were met by over 9,000 screaming fans when they arrived in San Francisco to begin a U.S. tour.
In 1969, Mick Jagger was accidentally shot in the hand during the filming of "Ned Kelly" in Australia.
In 1977, The Police play their first-ever gig in Birmingham, England.
In 1979, Chic scored a #1 single with "Good Times", which was the follow-up single to the hugely popular "Le Freak".
In 1982, Liverpool named four streets after the Fab Four; John Lennon Drive, Paul McCartney Way, Ringo Starr Drive, and George Harrison Close.
In 1984, Duran Duran's Nick Rhodes married girlfriend Julie Anne Friedman at a registry office in London, England. They would divorce in 1992.
In 1992, parents Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love gave birth to their daughter, Frances Bean.
ALSO BORN ON THIS DAY
Nona Hendryx, member of LaBelle, 1945.
Nigel Griggs, bassist for Split Enz, 1949.
Dennis Elliott, drummer for Foreigner, 1950
John Rees (1951) and Ron Strykert (1957), members of Men At Work.
Patrick Swayze, actor and singer of Top 10 hit "She's Like The Wind", 1951.
Tracy Tracy, singer for The Primitives, 1967.
Monday, August 16, 2010
As a rocker myself, I can tell you that Knox Avenue offers one of the best bangs for your buck in this or any other town. For starters, the place was completely gutted and rebuilt for optimum performance, right down to acoustic reinforcement and sound-proofing so that the only band you hear in your rehearsal space is your own. Also, since they only just opened their doors this past April, the place still has that "new car smell" about it. With over 100 rooms available, you can rest assured that your band will be the first to rock your new room. That may not be important to everyone, but it is to me.
Upon entering the facility, I was amazed by the size of the joint. There is a labyrinth of well-lighted hallways stretching for what seems like the size of a football field. I happened upon a rehearsal room currently owned by my friend's band and was able to pop my head inside for a look.
While Knox Avenue was no doubt built to accommodate the needs of musicians on the North West side of Chicago, this is a facility that's well worth driving a little bit out of your way. I could see bands that are located closer to other facilities finding a lot to like about this place that would make it worth the few extra miles of travel.
So, hey, maybe it's time you took a trip to the North West side and checked this place out. It's located at 4255 Knox Avenue. Give Greg a call at 773-685-KNOX (6559) and he'll be happy to give you the grand tour.
Right up front, let me just say that, while I consider myself a fan of the band Wilco, I also happen to find most other Wilco fans kinda insufferable. You can always tell how delusional a Wilco fan is by how they feel about some of the band's recent releases. If they own them all and argue vehemently about the greatness of A Ghost Is Born, you have found yourself a real whack-job. You can tell them I said so, too, because the only Wilco album that has ever lived up to the mountains of hype dedicated to this band is 1999's Summerteeth.
Thankfully, when the band made their final Midwest appearance of 2010 at South Bend's Coveleski Park on the last Friday of July, Jeff Tweedy and the boys just happened to play one of the best live versions of my favorite song from that particular album EVER!
On this date in 1962, Pete Best is given his walking papers, then asked to perform later that night with the Beatles. He does not show up.
Also on this date in 1962, Little Stevie Wonder debuts with his first single, "I Call It Pretty Music (But The Old People Call It The Blues)". Another future legend by the name of Marvin Gaye plays drums on the single.
In 1965, David Jones officially changes his stage name to David Bowie.
In 1968, Bruce Springsteen debuts his new band, Earth, at a coffee house in Red Bank, NJ.
In 1975, Peter Gabriel officially announces his departure from Genesis.
On this day in 1977, Elvis Presley dies of heart failure at the age of 42.
BORN ON THIS DAY
Gary Loizzo, member of the American Breed ("Bend Me, Shape Me") and longtime Chicago-area producer/engineer, 1945.
Scott Asheton, drummer for Iggy & The Stooges, 1949.
James Taylor of Kool & The Gang, 1953.
Tim Farriss, guitarist INXS, 1957.
LL Cool J, 1968.
Friday, August 13, 2010
On this day in 1965, during a gig right here in Chicago, Dave Clark Five singer Mike Smith was pulled off the stage by adoring female admirers. In doing so, Smith suffered two broken ribs. These women are probably all grandmothers now and should be ASHAMED! :)
In 1966 "Revolver" goes to #1 in the US and UK!
In 1971, John Lennon arrived by plane in New York City from London. He would never return to England.
In 1988, The Cure singer Robert Smith marries longtime girlfriend Mary Poole.
On this date in 1994, members of Oasis and The Verve were arrested in Sweden for trashing a local bar and breaking into a church to steal communion wine. Classy!
On the very same day in the US, Woodstock '94 took place, with headliners Green Day, Nine Inch Nails, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Aerosmith.
BORN ON THIS DAY
Dan Fogelberg, 1951
Feargal Sharkey, singer for the Undertones, 1958
Michael Bradley, bassist for the Undertones, 1959
Danny Bonaduce, "bassist" for the Partridge Family, 1959
LeAnn Rimes, 1982
Thursday, August 12, 2010
We've said it before, we'll say it again...promise us music and ribs and we will be there!
The organizers of the new Rockin' On The River Ribfest festival took our words to heart and created what we hope to be a magical experience that will take place this weekend in the vicinity of Grand Avenue and, well, the RIVER!
Here's the schedule of musical acts slated to appear!
1:30 p.m.: Million Dollar Quartet
3:30 p.m. The Personnel
7 p.m.: Kirkland
8:30 p.m.: Good Charlotte
4:45 p.m.: Too White Crew
6 p.m.: Hairbangers Ball
1 p.m.: Trash Martini
3:30 p.m.: Model Stranger
6 p.m.: JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound
7 p.m.: Scott DuBose
8:30 p.m.: Chris Cagle
2:15 p.m.: Kevin Mileski
4:45 p.m.: Virginia Coalition
7 p.m.: Maggie Speaks
5 p.m.: The Trippin Billies
3 p.m.: Colt Ford
Noon: Dropped Once
1 p.m.: Wedding Banned
Monday, August 9, 2010
Anyone in the Chicago area who loves rock music and didn't choose to attend Lollapalooza this year doesn't deserve a wrap-up, so consider this wrap-up for those of you too far away to attend...which, really, is kind of lame considering that I met folks who'd flown in from Australia, South Africa, and jolly ol' England for the festival.
Anyhoo, without further adieu...
While they sounded pretty much like they always do, a lot of people were saying The Strokes were the highlight of the festival. I personally don't trust a band that wears their guitars so high, but, hey, decide for yourself.
For all you exiles from the grunge age, Soundgarden came, saw, and kicked Arcade Fire's ass. Both bands played at the same time, causing many to flip a coin. Those who chose Arcade Fire still got to hear Soundgraden because they were LOUD (click HERE to watch "Black Hole Sun"). I ran into some peeps who said S'garden's gig at the Vic was hell on wheels. Stereogum has some clips of that gig, if you dig.
Lady Gaga was the obvious reason many people chose to attend Day One. I could not help feeling that she still wants very much to be Madonna and that there was not a single instrument onstage actually being played by a human. Other than that, she was awesome.
When Green Day hit the stage, I turned for a moment to check out the crowd and was amazed at how young the audience was. I don't mean 21-22, more like 12 or 13. It was like watching Ralph's World or something. Billy Armstrong wear more eyeliner than Avril Lavigne these days, is that punk or what?
One of my personal highlights was catching Devo's set. If I had a nickel for every camera phone that came out of nowhere at the beginning of "Whip It", I'd be a very rich man. Here's their rockin' performance of "Goin' Under" from New Traditionalists.
On this date in 1986, Queen played their last ever concert, appearing at Knebworth Park in England to a sold-out crowd of over 120,000.
In 1994, Oasis abruptly end a concert in Newcastle, England after guitarist Noel Gallagher is attacked onstage by a fan. Angry fans then attack the band's bus as it leaves the venue.
Jerry Garcia dies of a heart attack on this date in 1995.
In 2005, Marc Cohn is shot in the head by a man trying to carjack his tour fan. Amazingly, the bullet does not enter Cohn's skull, leaving the singer with only a flesh wound and some bruising.
BORN ON TJHIS DAY
Benjamin Orr, bassist for The Cars, 1955. Orr passed away from cancer in 2000.
Whitney Houston, 1963
Arion Salazar of Third Eye Blind, 1972
Friday, August 6, 2010
In 1973, Stevie Wonder was seriously injured in an auto accident just outside of Winstem-Salem, North Carolina. The accident left him in a coma for four days, and robbed him of his sense of smell.
On this date in 1982, "Pink Floyd's The Wall", starring Boomtown Rats singer Bob Geldof, opened in US theaters.
In 1988, Guns 'n' Roses' album Appetite For Destruction hit #1 in the US.
In 1989, U2's bassist Adam Clayton was arrested in Dublin for marijuana possession and intent to distribute. Charges were later waived upon Clayton's sizable donation to a local women's charity.
Indie artist Lisa Loeb begins a three-week stint at #1 on the US Pop Singles chart with a song she contributed to the film "Reality Bites" called "Stay (I Miss You). She would go on to sign with Geffen Records.
On this day in 2004, legendary funk musician Rick James was found dead at his home in Los Angeles.
BORN ON THIS DAY
Pat McDonald, Timbuk 3, 1952
Randy DeBarge, soul band DeBarge, 1958
Elliot Smith, 1969.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Madina Lake bassist Matthew Leone benefit shows at the Double Door and Hard Rock Hotel are taking place August 21 and 22, respectively. Additionally, Reggie's Rock Club is hosting a benefit show on August 17. We at Superior St./Knox Avenue are throwing our support behind this great cause and urge you to attend at least one of the shows. Whether ot not you do, we also urge you to chip in a buck or two (or more if you can swing it) to cover Matthew's sizable medical expenses at the ThroughThePain website.
My personal opinion is that somebody else is tweeting under the name "Kanye West", but the idea that one of the more self-absorbed humans seems to have recently found his way to Twitter has inspired an array of offshoot "network time-killers", including a string of New Yorker-esque cartoons set to Kanye tweets.
The cartoons are the brainstorm of comedy writers (uh, does it seem like everybody is a comedy writer these days, or is it just me?) Paul Sabourin and Josh Cagen. You can follow them at #KanyeNewYorkerTweets, or check out all current cartoon's at Josh's twitpic page.
We, of course, thought these were pretty killer and just had to pass them on. Enjoy!
On this date in 1957, the very first American Bandstand airs on national TV. Dick Clark would go on to host the show until its final airing in 1989.
In 1967, Pink Floyd released their first album, Piper At The Gates Of Dawn.
Aerosmith signs a recording contract with Columbia Records on this date in 1972. Clive Davis had courted the band after seeing them perform at Max's Kansas City in NYC.
In 1975, manager/svengali Kim Fowley forms all-girl rock band The Runaways in Los Angeles. The band is best-known for including a young Joan Jett and, later, Lita Ford.
In 1983, David Crosby is sentenced to five years in a Texas jail for possession of cocaine and firearms.
Jeff Porcaro, drummer for the band Toto, is is found dead of an apparent heart attack on this date in 1992.
BORN ON THIS DAY
Pat Smear, guitarist for the Germs, Nirvana, and Foo Fighters, 1959
Pete Burns, vocalist for Dead Or Alive, 1959
Calvin Hayes (1960) and Mike Nocito (1963), both of the band Johnny Hates Jazz
Jennifer Finch, bassist L7, 1966
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
In 1975, Robert Plant and his wife were seriously injured in an automobile accident that occurred while on vacation in the Greek Isles.
On this date in 1980, John Lennon began recording sessions for the album "Double Fantasy" at NYC's legendary recording studio The Hit Factory with Yoko Ono and producer Jack Douglas.
In 1984, Prince hit #1 on the US charts with his album Purple Rain. The album would remain at #1 for 24 weeks, selling over 8 million copies.
Paul Reynolds, guitarist A Flock of Seagulls, born 1962
Sam Yaffa, guitarist Hanoi Rocks, 1963
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
On this day in 1963, the Beatles play their final performance at Liverpool's Cavern Club.
In 1971, ex-Beatle Paul McCartney announces the formation of his new group, Wings, with wife Linda and guitarist Denny Laine.
BORN ON THS I DAY
Jimmy Nicol, drummer who filled in for Ringo Starr on the Beatles' 1964 Australian tour, born in 1939.
James Hetfield, Metallica guitarist, 1963.
Shirley Manson, vocalist for rock band Garbage, 1966.
So, there I was, somehow excited by the prospect of hearing some new Ministry music as I paid the $5 cover and entered into the dimly lit Lucky Number Grill, located in the Bucktown/Wicker Park section of Chicago.
Having been with Ministry ringleader Al Jourgenson for the better part of his 30-year run, I have enjoyed an intense love-hate relationship with the man and his music. It would seem that he has, too.
During the course of the night, though, when not partaking in the wonderfully explicit displays of fetish entertainment going on around me (and me without my camera, dammit), I was once again reminded that Ministry's best work has always been the songs that play well on the dance floor. I know that ain't at all what Jourgenson wants to hear, but, hey, he's the one showcasing his new album of remixes while a DJ blasts music from all phases of the man's career. And Jourgenson himself would have to be blind to see the throngs of dancing bodies that fill the dance floor anytime one of those particular songs starts playing.
Too bad he's so damn insistent upon being seen as a bad-ass.
From the very moment of the band's inception in the early 1980's, Uncle Al has been valiantly trying to elude his musical past like some foul stench one can never escape. Ministry, of course, was a quite intentional response to Jourgenson's tenure in under-achieving Chicago post-punk band Special Affect. The band, while talented and full of potential, ultimately failed to serve as a fulfilling outlet for his more esoteric musical ambitions.
After a couple well received 12" singles issued on the Chicago-based Wax Trax! label, Jourgenson and partner-in-crime/drummer Stephen George signed to Arista Records. Their first full-length, With Sympathy, was a slick, aim-for-the-fences, synth-based stab at the big time. With songs such as "Revenge" and "Effigy (I'm Not An)", Jourgenson melded synth-pop with a sneer and a fake British accent, but fame and fortune seemed to ignore him for the likes of Cyndi Lauper and Billy Idol.
Selling a respectable 250,000 copies, the album was not the gold-plated hit it perhaps should have been, but it did give Arista enough faith in their artist to finance demos for a second album. Jourgenson responded by cutting a handful of half-hearted new tracks, including a Roxy Music cover that was Jourgenson's final documented attempt at "playing ball" with the label suits. No longer able to hide his contempt for the proverbial "assembly line hit machine", Jourgenson sought his release from the Arista roster and, shockingly, the label obliged.
Jourgenson then returned to indie home Wax Trax! with a chip on his shoulder and a tune in his heart, so to speak. That tune was "Everyday Is Halloween", which became an immediate underground dance hit and the basis for the major labels to once again come a-courtin'.
(Click HERE to download a RARE live version of Ministry performing "Everyday Is Halloween".)
It was at this precise moment that Jourgenson, like the proverbial scorpion biting his own tail, turned against himself, openly dismissing everything he'd recorded as Ministry up to that point as nothing more than "synth-pop crap". Oddly, he seemed to loathe his own work as if someone had forced him to create such disposable fodder against his own will when, in truth, he was never anything less than commander of his own ship. Fans who'd been there from the beginning were made to feel as if they'd shown poor judgment in liking the music enough to buy it.
With a new label deal (Sire/Warner Bros.) and partnership with dub producer Adrian Sherwood, Jourgenson holed up in London's Southern Studio to record his follow-up.
Those hoping for an entire album of songs like "Everyday is Halloween" must have been immensely disappointed when they opened their copy of Twitch and played it for the first time. As someone who enjoyed the first half of With Sympathy, I recall hearing Twitch for the first time and believing that something was either wrong with my copy of the album, or my stereo system, or both.
Quite succinctly, what I heard challenged my very understanding of what I thought music should and could be. What I found most startling was the complete absence of conventionality in any sense. It was as if Jourgenson and Sherwood had somehow succeeded in erasing their minds of any previous conception of what pop music was and began anew, constructing a musical landscape that was completely their own. Those hoping to find a three-minute pop song within the grooves of this monumental record would walk away empty-handed. Granted, "All Day" is a song recorded during roughly the same period as "Everyday Is Halloween", but the remix that appears on Twitch seems intent on deconstructing the song.
(Click HERE to download a RARE live version of "All Day" from 1986.)
To this day, I've yet to hear anyone coax such monolithic slabs of dissonance and decay from their synthesizer. When I listen to Twitch, even to this day, I imagine a pile of discarded synths smoldering in back of a London studio, Jourgenson having rocked the life out of each and every one of them.
Twitch, of course, was Jourgenson's challenge to fans and record label suits alike. The message was very clear: Uncle Al was not going to make music for anyone but himself and, if, at the end of the day, he was the only one getting off on it, that was just fine by him. Oh, and don't ask him to play anything off of With Sympathy.
Jourgenson and new partner Paul Barker upped the stakes two years later with the nitro-burning The Land Of Rape And Honey, adding guitars to the mix and seemingly injecting lethal doses of adrenaline to the proceedings, as evidenced by tracks such as "Stigmata" and the title cut.
On 1989, Jourgenson enlisted a full band to create The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste and, in doing so, took the insanity to a whole new level. Synths seemed to no longer hold any interest for Jourgenson, who now seemed hell-bent on proving his prowess as a hardcore guitarist and producer. By doing so, he almost immediately washed his hands of any association with the artist who had created Twitch and, in doing so, willingly became a thrash rock cartoon character, which, sadly, he remains to this day.
What Jourgenson can't quite seem to understand is that no album full of his cookie-monster rants and speedcore guitar work is even half as heavy as Twitch was. No amount of multi-tracked Flying V's run through Marshall stacks turned to eleven can compete with the mammoth ferocity of a single synthesizer keyboard in Al Jourgenson's hands, but damn if he isn't commited to proving me wrong.
See, for every album that Jourgenson makes, the only way he can truly follow it up is by making a record that's heavier. The danger in that is that the ceiling's not as high as one would think and you very quickly fall into the trap of repeating yourself or, even worse, sounding like a third-rate "Metalocalypse" soundtrack.
If Jourgenson wants to make an album that's heavier and more defiant than his last one, he needs to lose the guitars and forget everything he's learned in the past twenty odd years. Crazy, I know, but it was that same level of crazy that gave the world Twitch and, while I'm not asking for Twitch, Part 2, even that would be preferable to another instantly forgettable Al Jourgenson grind-core record full of riffs that sound as if they fell off the back of Rob Zombie's hillbilly hearse.
Monday, August 2, 2010
On this day in 1962 Robert Zimmerman officially changed his name to Bob Dylan
In 1976, Pete "Puddy" Watts, a logntime member of Pink Floyd's road crew, and the man who supplied the maniacal laughter heard on the "Dark Side Of The Moon" album, died of a heroin overdose.
Chicago's pride and joy, Peter Cetera, landed at #1 on this day in 1986 with the single "The Glory of Love", from the soundtrack to the film The Karate Kid II.
In 1998, the Beastie Boys hit #1 with their new album "Hello Nasty". It was their third consecutive #1 album and would stay at the top spot for three weeks.
On this day in 2000, KC and the Sunshine Band member Jerome Smith was crushed to death by a bulldozer he had been operating.
Killers front man Brandon Flowers married Tana Munblowsky in a private ceremony held in Hawaii on this date in 2005.
Mojo Nixon, born in 1957.
Butch Vig (noted producer and founder of the bands Spooner, Fire Town and Garbage), 1957.
Lee Mavers, (guitarist/singer for The La's), 1965
In our continuing goal to make Knox the most ass-kicking-est rehearsal facility in town, we are now in talks to procure additional space in order to construct some hourly rooms. Many bands in town have spoken of just such a need and we at Knox have listened.
Why the need for hourly rooms?
- Hey, let's face it. Even if you have a permanent rehearsal space, sometimes the idea of auditioning new members seems better suited to an hourly room. After all, it only takes one bad egg to scope out your room and make note of all your gear under the guise of "auditioning". We wish such things never happened and its hard to believe that their are turncoats amidst the ranks of Chicago's rock brethren, but the least we, and you, can do is play it safe at all times.
- You're having some scheduling conflicts with the other band you share your space with and don't want that to get in the way of your rehearsal, recording or concert preparation plans.
- You've got a new piece of gear you wanna try out, or want a room all to yourself to do some guerrilla-style recording. Did we mention that these rooms will be 100% sound-proofed and acoustically-treated to create the most productive environment possible.
We at Knox are excited about our new hourly rooms and will keep you abreast of all developments as we work feverishly to give the people exactly what they want, and then some!
Sunday, August 1, 2010
When's the last time you had some fall-off-the-bone BBQ that was so good it made you wanna slap yo' mama? Well, whenever it was, we at Superior St. are hope the next time you enjoy some tasty home-style BBQ will be in our back yard on Thursday, September 30th at 5:30PM.
That's right, the countdown has begun to our now-legendary annual fall BBQ and there are now less than two months until your taste buds will be watering with delight. In our attempt to have as many of your senses doing the same, we are also providing plenty of beer and other drinks, as well as some cool music by The Western Elstons.
A good time WILL be had by all.