Jason’s Jukebox: The Who

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We’ll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgement of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song–“Won’t Get Fooled Again”

In the 1960’s, the British Invasion of Rock was in full swing. Bands like the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and The Who changed the landscape. The Who even paved the way for punk rock, according to frontmen for The Ramones and The Clash, two of the most influential bands of the genre. For this edition of Jason’s Jukebox, I am focusing on this pivotal band.

The members are:

  • Roger Daltry– lead vocals, guitar
  • Pete Townshend–lead guitar, backing vocals
  • John Entwhistele–bass, piano (deceased, 2002)
  • Keith Moon–drums (deceased, 1978)

my-generation

My Generation (1965) ***1/2

Singles: “My Generation”, “The Kids Are All Right”

The Who’s debut is a strong start. It’s not as polished as their later albums (especially their 5th and 6th albums), but what it lacks in production it makes up for in energy. The title track blasts its defiance in a mood that would be echoed by punk rockers everywhere. The harmonies of Daltry and Townshend are on point.

Best tracks: “I Don’t Mind”, “My Generation”, “The Kids Are All Right”

quick

A Quick One (1966) **1/2

Singles: “Happy Jack”, “Boris the Spider”

This album is aptly named, as it’s the shortest one in the discography.  It’s the odd one out, as Pete Townshend’s songwriting is the least prominent on this album. It’s got a decent cover of “Heat Wave”. The nine-minute closing song, “A Quick One, While He’s Away” could be considered foreshadowing of Tommy.

Best Tracks: “Boris the Spider”, “Heat Wave”, “A Quick One, While He’s Away”

sell-out

The Who Sell Out (1966) *****

Singles: “I Can See For Miles”, “Mary Anne With the Shaky Hand”

This is the first of three concept albums by the Who. The idea behind the album is that they’ve taken over a radio station to broadcast the album. Even the album cover evokes the “sell-out” theme, with each member hocking a different product. Roger Daltry advertises Heinz Baked Beans, Pete Townshend sells Odorono deordant, Keith Moon sells sports cream, and John Entwhistle parodies Charles Atlas’s exercise program. There are even commercial breaks and songs that could be jingles.

Best Tracks: “Armenia City in the Sky”, “Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand”, “Odorono”, “I Can See For Miles”, “I Can’t Reach You”

tommy

Tommy (1969) *****

Singles: “Pinball Wizard”, “We’re Not Gonna Take It/See Me, Feel Me”

Of the three concept albums The Who recorded, Tommy is the most legendary. It does seem a bit pretentious by some, but I enjoy it. It paved the way for many other bands to create concept albums of their own, such as Pink Floyd, Genesis, and Green Day.

Best Tracks: “Pinball Wizard”, “I’m Free”, “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, “Smash the Mirror”

whos-next

Who’s Next (1971) *****

Singles: “Bargain”, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, “Baba O’Reilly”

Pete Townshend considers this The Who’s best album. For me, it’s a toss-up between this and Tommy. It’s just straight-up rock, and contains many of their most famous songs. “Baba O’Reilly” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” may be a bit overplayed these days (especially considering how the latter has become a meme), but that doesn’t diminish their impact. Glynn John’s production is excellent.

Best Tracks: “Bargain”, “Getting in Tune”, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”

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Jason’s Jukebox: Primus

primus

If you stop Primus’s lead vocalist and bassist Les Claypool after a gig and tell him that Primus rocks, the usual gag is that he’ll say “no, we suck.” This isn’t because Les has no self-esteem, it’s because he’s that kind of person.  Primus is a hard band to describe. It’s got a very surreal feel to it. For this reason, the joke actually makes sense–it’s not the kind of music that the average rock fan would understand. And that’s why I enjoy them. So for this edition of Jason’s Jukebox, I’m ranking all of Primus’s albums so far.

The current line-up is

  • Les Claypool: bass, vocals
  • Larry LaLonde: lead guitar, keyboards, banjo, sythesizer
  • Bryan “Brain” Mantia: drums (originally Tim Alexander)

frizzle Frizzle Fry **1/2 (1989)

Singles: “John the Fisherman”, “Too Many Puppies”

This was a decent start, but many of the songs lack the polish that would come later. It’s a good effort for what it is.

Best Tracks: “To Defy the Laws of Tradition”, “John the Fisherman”

sailing  Sailing the Seas of Cheese **** (1991)

Single: “Jerry Was a Race Car Driver”

1991 was the year alternative rock really exploded. We had great albums from Pearl Jam, Nirvana, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and U2. Primus falls into this too.  The sophomore album was and still is one of their best, and gave us one of their most signature songs, “Jerry Was a Race Car Driver.”

Best Tracks: “Jerry Was a Race Car Driver”, “Sgt. Baker”, “Is It Luck”, “Those Damned Blue Collar Tweekers”

pork-soda Pork Soda ***** (1993)

Singles: “My Name Is Mud”, “Mr. Krinkle”

This is my favorite Primus album. I fell it’s their most definitive and the best example of how Les Claypool’s surreal humor makes them as great as they are.  The video for “Mr. Krinkle” is still one of my favorite music videos. Surprisingly, it was all done in one take.

Best tracks: “My Name Is Mud”, “Welcome to this World”, “Mr. Krinkle”, “Hamburger Train”

punchbowl  Tales From the Punchbowl (1995) ***

Punchbowl gave us the third signature song, “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver”. This was their second-highest seller, right behind Pork Soda. It was also the last album to go gold. To me, it’s just average. It feels like Les and his boys are just coasting by and not trying anything different. I didn’t hate it, but it just wasn’t as great as Pork Soda or Sailing on the Seas of Cheese.

Best tracks: “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver”, “Southbound Pachyderm”, “Hellbound 17 1/2”

brownalbum Brown Album (1997) **

Singles: “Shake Hands With Beef”, “Puddin Taine”

This was the first album for new drummer Bryan “Brain” Mantia, who replaced Tim Alexander. I think this one is Ok at best. I like that the name “Brown Album” was actually official, as most of the time when an album is given a color for its name, that’s done by the fans. It’s just an example of Les’s unique sense of humor.

Best Tracks: “Fisticuffs”, “Puddin Taine”

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Jason’s Jukebox: Muse

muse

 

Rise up and take the power back, it’s time that
The fat cats had a heart attack, you know that
Their time is coming to an end
We have to unify and watch our flag ascend

They will not force us
They will stop degrading us
They will not control us
We will be victorious–“Uprising”

I once told myself that I would never stop trying out current music.  I did not ever want to be the fogey who bemoans “My music was better! Today’s music is terrible!” So I decided to occasionally try out current musicians. One that I really enjoy is Muse.

Muse could best be explained as a modern-day progressive and alternative rock band. They list among their influences Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Queen, Led Zeppelin, and even Skrillex.  It’s all combined to make a sound that is uniquely their own.  For this edition of Jason’s Jukebox, I will be ranking all seven of their studio albums, including their 2015 release Drones.

The three members are:

  • Matt Bellamy: lead vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards
  • Chris Wolstenholme: bass guitar, backing vocals, keyboards
  • Dominic Howard: Percussion, drums

showbiz

Showbiz ** (1999)

Singles: “Muscle Museum”, “Sunburn”

Muse had a pretty slow start on their rise to fame, with their first album not being all that great.  It got some mixed reviews and I don’t think it’s an impressive debut.

Best tracks: “Falling Down”, “Unintended”

origin

Origin of Symmetry *** (2001)

Singles: “New Born”, “Hyper Music”

For me, this is a better starting point than Showbiz. Muse showed more promise with this album, and seemed poised to take their music outside the UK. Matt and Chris played off each other well.

Best tracks: “New Music”, “Bliss”, “Hyper Music”

absolution

Absolution **** (2003)

Singles: “Time is Running Out”, “Sing For Absolution”

This was Muse’s breakout album, and their first international success.  Matt’s vocals and instrumentation, combined with Chris’s backing and bass created an album that I still consider one of Muse’s best releases.

Best tracks: “Time is Running Out”, “Sing For Absolution”, “Butterflies and Hurricanes”

black

Black Holes and Revelations ***** (2006)

Singles: “Supermassive Black Hole”, “Knights of Cydonia”

This is one of my top four favorite albums from Muse.  Here, their sound is at its peak, with their first true signature song, “Knights of Cydonia”, which is still a crowd-pleaser today.  There is a definite Depeche Mode influence on such tracks as “Supermassive Black Hole,” the aforementioned “Knights of Cydonia”, and “City of Delusion”.  The album was featured in the 2007 edition of 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Best tracks: “Starlight”, “Supermassive Black Hole”, “Invincible”, “City of Delusion”, “Knights of Cydonia”

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Jason’s Jukebox: Rock n Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Nominations

It’s that time of year, time to analyze the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame’s Nominee list and unveil my picks. This year, we have a whopping 19 performers, some of which have been nominated for the first time. Of these, only 5 will be inducted.  Let’s get started. Note: performers in orange are my picks.

badbrains

1. Bad Brains: Some of these nominees were chosen not because of popularity, but because of influence. Bad Brains is one of those chosen because of their influence.  If you are a fan of bands like Smashing Pumpkins, Black Flag, or Dead Kennedys, chances are they were influenced by Bad Brains. Notable songs and albums:“Banned in DC”, I Against I

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2. The Cars: This band started in the late 70’s, and was a big hit on both the rock and new wave scenes throughout the 70’s and 80’s. They were one of the first performers who used MTV to promote their music. Notable songs: <“Let the Good Times Roll”, “You Might Think”

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3. Chaka Khan: This disco performer was in a funk band Rufus before breaking off into her own act. She appeared in the movie “Blues Brothers”, and her music has been sampled by many hip-hop acts. Whitney Houston covered her song “I’m Every Woman” for The Bodyguard’s soundtrack. Notable songs: “I Feel For You”, “Ain’t Nobobdy”, “I’m Every Woman”
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4. Chic: This disco act dominated the genre in the 70’s. One of the members, Nile Rodgers, later became a producer and produced albums for David Bowie, INXS, and Duran Duran (does that sound rock enough for you, snobs?). Their song “Good Times” was sampled in the very first rap song ever, “Rappers’ Delight”, by the Sugarhill Gang. Notable songs: “Le Freak”, “Good Times”

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5. Depeche Mode: One of the most prominent New Wave acts, and one of the few New Wave acts to thrive past the 90’s. Notable songs and albums: “People Are People”, Music For the Masses, “Personal Jesus”

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6. Electric Light Orchestra: Formed in the 1970’s by Jeff Lynne, this band was one of the innovators of the “progressive rock” movement, along with Yes, Rush, and Pink Floyd. Notable albums: Out of the Blue, El Dorado

jgeils6. J. Geils Band One of the premiere rock bands of the 80’s and one of the earliest stars of MTV’s golden age. It should be noted that J. Geils is the lead guitarist, not the lead singer. The lead singer is Peter Wolfe, who had a solo career of his own after the band split. Notable songs: “Freeze Frame”, “Love Stinks”, “Centerfold”

7. Jane’s Addiction: One of the most controversial acts of the 90’s. When their cover for Ritual de lo Habitual got pulled from record stores for its shocking cover, they re-released it, replacing the offending image with a copy of the First Amendment. Perry Farrell, the lead singer, was the founder of the Lollapalooza Music Festival, which showcased many performers of the 90’s alternative scene. He also formed another band called Porno For Pyros. Notable albums and songs: Ritual de lo Habitual, Jane Says”

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8. Janet Jackson: Michael Jackson’s sister finally gets her chance in the spotlight. Janet didn’t make her music just like Michael’s. She was a bad girl, maybe not as bad as Joan Jett, but she was not someone to take lightly. Her album Rhythm Nation was one of the best-selling albums in the 80’s. Let’s forgive her for that infamous “wardrobe malfunction”. I’m sure she’s learned from that mistake. Notable albums and songs: Rhythm Nation, “Nasty”
journey

9. Journey: Journey was one of the premiere groups of the 80’s rock scene. Journey has had a bit of a revolving door with its lineup. In fact, Steve Perry, their most popular lead singer, was actually the second lead singer in the band’s history. (If you listen to Greg Rollie’s era as leader, it’s markedly different from when Steve Perry eventually took over) Even if Steve Perry doesn’t actually show up, I see no reason to not induct them. Notable songs and albums: “Don’t Stop Believing”, Raised on Radio Escape

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Jason’s Jukebox: My Nominees for the Rock Hall’s Class of 2017

eliminator
Me standing in front of the Eliminator coupe from ZZ Top’s music videos

It’s almost time for the Rock Hall to unveil its nominees for next year’s induction ceremony. Last year, they picked some great acts. However, there are still people who are always negative about the Rock Hall, especially when they’ve passed over so many performers. I’ll admit, I’m disappointed myself. But at the same time, I’m happy for the people who actually have gotten in. That’s mostly because I’ve actually been to the Hall. When you see firsthand the dedication of everyone who works there, it’s hard to be disappointed. So here are some people I think are long overdue.

yes

  • Yes: Yes should’ve been inducted last year at least, especially with the death of their founding bassist, Chris Squire. Jon Anderson, the lead singer for Yes, has often joked that the reason they haven’t been inducted is that there’s been too many changes to the lineup. I disagree. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fleetwood Mac, and Pink Floyd all had lineup changes over the years, and they’ve been inducted. I think it’s just the fact that Yes has never really had that big of a presence on the radio. They’re more of a “cult” band.

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  • Duran Duran: They just celebrated their 35th anniversary together, so they’ve passed the eligibility requirement. Not only that, but Duran Duran was one of the most popular bands of the 80’s. New Wave acts should be in the Hall, even if the fad didn’t last all that long.

journey

  • Journey: Like Yes, Journey has had a bit of a revolving door with its lineup. In fact, Steve Perry, their most popular lead singer, was actually the second lead singer in the band’s history. (If you listen to Greg Rollie’s era as leader, it’s markedly different from when Steve Perry eventually took over) Even if Steve Perry doesn’t actually show up, I see no reason to not induct them.

ironmaiden

  • Iron Maiden: Heavy Metal has had a bad history with the Rock Hall, and it’s a shame. The only Heavy Metal acts in the hall now are Metallica and Black Sabbath. But there’s so much more to the genre than those two. Iron Maiden has had a long, faithful legion of fans. I remember seeing Eddie (their zombie mascot) on so many notebooks and T-shirts in school. He’s an iconic mascot that every metalhead recognizes. And Bruce Dickinson’s pipes are pipes of legend!

rainbow

  • Rainbow: Last year, Deep Purple was finally inducted. Now that means we can start inducting the bands that were formed after they disbanded. The first of these is Rainbow, which launched the career of the late Rodney James Dio, another musician who I feel is long overdue. I feel before Dio gets inducted, we should induct the band where he started.

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Jason’s Jukebox: Led Zeppelin

zeppelin

I hear the horses’ thunder
Down in the valley blow,
I’m waiting for the angels of Avalon,
Waiting for the eastern glow.

After the Yardbirds split, their founder Jimmy Page wanted to form a new band, tentatively called the New Yardbirds.  His friend Keith Moon, (drummer for The Who) quipped “That’ll fall like a lead zeppelin.” And that is how the legend of Led Zeppelin began. This time for Jason’s Jukebox, it’s time to rank all 9 Led Zeppelin studio albums. Let’s meet the band:

  • Robert Plant: Vocals
  • Jimmy Page: Lead guitar
  • John Paul Jones: Bass
  • John “Bonzo” Bonham: Drums

zeppelin1

Led Zeppelin I (1969) ****

Singles: “Good Times, Bad Times”, “Communication Breakdown”

From the very beginning, Led Zeppelin was a hit. There has never been a debut quite like this, either before or since.  It doesn’t matter that “You Shook Me” and “I Can’t Quit You Baby” are actually covers.  Led Zeppelin takes them and makes them their own. “Good Times, Bad Times” is a solid opening track.  “Dazed and Confused is like two wizards dueling. “Communication Breakdown” is a frantic onslaught. This is a great debut.

Best Tracks: “Good Times, Bad Times”, “Dazed and Confused”, “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”

zeppelin2

Led Zeppelin II (1969)*****

Singles: “Heartbreaker”, “Whole Lotta Love”

It’s not easy to top a debut like Led Zeppelin I, but II is the best of the “numbered” albums. To think it only took some weeks to record, between breaks during the tour for the first album.  So many standards in Classic Rock radio are here: “Whole Lotta Love”, “Ramble On”, and “Heartbreaker/Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman)”. “Moby Dick”, the band’s sole instrumental song, is a showcase for John Bonham’s awesome drumming, and doesn’t need lyrics to pull it off.

Fun Fact: On the original LP, the running time for “Thank You” is incorrectly listed as 3:30 due to a false fade. This was corrected in subsequent reissues.

Best Tracks: “Whole Lotta Love”, “Heartbreaker/Living Loving Maid”, “Ramble On”, “Moby Dick”

zeppelin3

Led Zeppelin III (1970) ***1/2

Single: “Immigrant Song”

This album doesn’t have the airplay of its predecessors, but it’s still great. It’s the most acoustic of the albums so far, not discounting II’s “Ramble On” or the debut’s “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”.

Best tracks: “Immigrant Song”, “Celebration Day”, “Since I’ve Been Loving You”, “Gallows Pole”

zeppelin4

Untitled (1971) *****

Singles: “Black Dog”, “Rock and Roll”

Call it 4, Signs, Hermit, whatever–this album will forever be known as a classic. Don’t dismiss “Stairway to Heaven” because DJ’s play it for bathroom breaks. And don’t let Spirit’s lawsuit for the track get more press than it deserved. “Stairway to Heaven” has much more riding on it than a short riff. “When the Levee Breaks” is an excellent cover.

Best Tracks: “When the Levee Breaks”,”Black Dog”, “Stairway to Heaven”, “Battle of Evermore” “Misty Mountain Hop”

Fun Fact: “When the Levee Breaks” was sampled by the Beastie Boys for their song “Rhymin’ and Stealin'”

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Jason’s Jukebox: Duran Duran

duran1

Papers in the roadside
Tell of suffering and greed
Here today, forgot tomorrow
Ooh, here besides the news
Of holy war and holy need
Ours is just a little sorrowed talk 

But I won´t cry for yesterday
There´s an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find
And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive –“Ordinary World”

Duran Duran is celebrating their 35th anniversary this year.  They’ve had a tumultuous career, starting with the new wave scene of the 80’s, and with repeated attempts to maintain relevance in the 90’s and 2000’s. This is a great time to take a look at their discography. I’ll be ranking these albums on a scale of 1 to 5 tigers.

The roster is:

  • Simon LeBon–vocals
  • Nick Rhodes–keyboards, vocals
  • John Taylor–bass, vocals
  • Roger Taylor–drums
  • Andy Taylor–guitar, vocals (*)–no longer in band.

duran2

Duran Duran (1981) 3 1/2 tigers

Singles: “Girls On Film”, “Planet Earth”

This debut album is one of the best debuts I’ve heard. The Fab Five had a good handle on their sound early on, and they managed to stick around longer than some of the other New Wave acts of their time, such as Missing Persons or A Flock of Seagulls. MTV gave them a huge fanbase in the states, in fact “Girls On Film” was one the most popular videos on MTV in that year.

Best Tracks: “Girls On Film”, “Planet Earth, “Careless Memories”, “Night Boat”

Fun Fact: The video for “Girls On Film” had to be edited to be shown during the day. The more risqué version was played at night.

duranrio

Rio (1982) 5 tigers–magnum opus

Singles: “Rio”, “Hungry Like the Wolf”, “Save a Prayer”

This is Duran Duran’s most definitive album, so much so that Alexandra Heller-Nichols, editor of Fiend magazine, contributed it to Robert Dimery’s 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. It’s this album that truly helped launch them into stardom. John Taylor’s bass line is great on songs like “Rio” and “The Chauffer”.

Best Tracks: “Rio”, “Hungry Like the Wolf”, “My Own Way”, “New Religion”

duranseven

Seven and the Ragged Tiger (1983) 4 1/2 tigers

Singles: “The Reflex”, “New Moon on Monday”, “Union of the Snake”

This was one of the first albums I owned as a kid, and I still think it’s one of the band’s best albums. While it doesn’t have the instantly recognizable hits from Rio, it’s the non-hits that stand out the most. It also has one of the best instrumental rock songs ever, “Tiger, Tiger”

Best Tracks: “The Reflex” “New Moon on Monday”, “Tiger, Tiger”, “The Seventh Stranger”

durannotorious

Notorious (1986) 3 1/2 tigers

Singles: “Notorious”, “Skin Trade”

This album began Duran Duran’s more experimental phase. Nile Rogers gave them a more horn-based sound (this would be his first album with the band), as evidenced by the singles. By this time, the band had broken into two side projects, Power Station and Arcadia, indicating some tension in the band. This was also their first album with Warren Cucurullo, who would become a new member later on.

Best Tracks: “Notorious”, “Vertigo (Do the Demolition)”, “Meet El Presidente”

duranbig

Big Thing (1988) 2 1/2 tigers

Singles: “I Don’t Want Your Love”, “All She Wants Is”

Big Thing was another shift for the band, as they experimented with a more “house”-based, techno sound that would stick with them for the rest of their discography. However, it took them a while to perfect it.

Best Tracks: “I Don’t Want Your Love”, “Palomino”

duranliberty

Liberty (1990)

Single: “Serious”

This album was a bit of a dip for Duran Duran, as the tide was beginning to turn away from New Wave. A new kind of alternative music was on the horizon, one defined by bands like Jane’s Addiction, Nirvana, and Green Day. Duran Duran would have a hard time adjusting to the times.

Best Tracks: “Violence of Summer (Love’s Taking Over”, “All Along the Water”

duranwedding

“Wedding Album” (1993) 3 tigers

Singles: “Too Much Information”, “Ordinary World”, “Come Undone”

By the time this album was recorded, Andy Taylor had left the band, with Warren Cucurullo taking over. The music scene had shifted towards a darker sound, and Duran Duran had failed to evolve, becoming more reminiscent of a time that the 90’s had become more cynical for. Of their 90’s albums, this one is actually their best. The opening track, “Too Much Information”, is a great stab at the popular media of the time. “Ordinary World” is a grim eulogy for a friend who died in a car crash.

Best Tracks: “Too Much Information”, “Ordinary World”, “Breath After Breath, “Femme Fatale”

Fun Fact: Because the band already had a self-titled album, this release is unofficially called the “Wedding Album” because of the cover art, depicting wedding pictures. “Femme Fatale” is a Lou Reed cover, making it a taste of what the next album would be.

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