Jason’s Jukebox: The Who

the-who

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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The Child Behind the Glass

autism-kid-behind-glass

As someone who uses Facebook, I see many articles about autism shared around, and often from an ableist perspective. One way to tell if the article you’re reading is going to be full of misinformation is if you see the image above. I hate it. HATE IT! Allow me to explain why.

First off, it conveys the image that autistic people are isolated from society. They are not. Yes, many are extremely introverted, or in some cases they may even be non-verbal. But neither should be a barrier to communication. There are more ways to communicate than with words: hugs, handshakes, giving someone a “high-five”, waving, etc.

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One Faith, Many Paths: Messina Lyle

I’ve been kind of slacking off with these interviews, but now I’m bringing them back. And to start off a new year of interviews, here’s my interview with my Facebook friend, Messina Lyle.

  1. What was your childhood like? Basically good. I grew up in and still live in my father’s childhood home.  It used to be a small farm before I was born, but at some point they expanded the city limits and so my family had to sell their livestock. When I was a small child my parents continued to grow vegetables.  Even when they stopped doing that, we kept all of our land–roughly five acres–so I’ve always been surrounded by nature. My childhood years weren’t always easy, though. Since I was an undiagnosed autistic, I struggled to find my niche within the public school system.
  2. Were you diagnosed with autism as a child or an adult? As an adult, less than a month after my 30th birthday. A friend from my church referred to a speech pathologist friend of hers who asked me some questions to get a picture of whether a diagnosis would be worth pursuing. She then referred me to the psychiatrist who officially diagnosed me.
  3. What is your denomination? Episcopalian. After having been unchurched in my mid-twenties, I started out by attending my mother’s boss’s Presbyterian church for a couple of years with my mother. For a good while after that I was active in several different faith communities at the same time and identified as “denominationally confused/challenged/indifferent.” These communities included my current home church (Episcopalian) as well as the aforementioned Presbyterian church, occasionally. The Episcopalian church was the first one I ever officially joined.  It was where I was baptized and confirmed.
  4. What is your favorite Bible passage and why? Probably Micah 6:8–“Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.” It was foundational in forming one of the Facebook groups I run.  A friend who helped me form the theological statement of the group suggested we use it. Later I asked another friend to create a graphic based on that verse to use as a pinned post and occasional cover photo for the group.
  5. Who is your favorite biblical feature besides Jesus? Probably Mary. She was His mother, after all.
  6. What evidence would you give for God’s existence? The way that different aspects of science and nature seem to work together.
  7. Who in your life has helped you grow in your faith? My mother’s boss’s wife, who has been a close friend for two decades, as well as my campus minister from when I was active in campus ministry in graduate school, and a few ministers that I have worked especially closely with over the years. I haven’t always shared all of these beliefs, but they have all stretched me and facilitated my growth in one way or another, and all of these relationships have helped to form an important part of who I am.

 

Celebrating 40 Years of Star Wars: A New Hope

new-hopeThis year marks the 40th anniversary of the Star Wars franchise. It’s been through a lot of changes, some good and bad. I’ve decided to look at both the original and the Disney versions as a way of showing how much it’s changed, and whether or not the Disney version is good or not. Let’s start where it all began.

George Lucas has been getting a lot of flack since the prequels. Frankly, I think it needs to be toned down. The man was a genius, even if all his ideas didn’t pan out. To me, Star Wars was at its best when it wasn’t the top of the mountain that it is today. That might be its biggest problem: it can’t die no matter what happens.

It’s hard to believe, but Lucas had a lot of trouble getting A New Hope off the ground. His first movie, THX 1138, was a huge flop. (To be honest, I’ve never even seen it.) But one thing helped immensely: American Graffiti. American Graffiti was an unexpected hit. It resonated with audiences both young and old and presented an America people missed. It was a new hope for an America that was still dealing with the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Lucas was good friends with Francis Ford Coppola, who at the time was making Apocalypse Now, the epic commentary on the Vietnam War inspired by Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”. He actually wanted Lucas to help out, and Lucas was interested, but he still had visions to turn The Star Wars (which was the working title for A New Hope) into something great. And the popularity of American Graffiti was enough to encourage him to take this chance. But Lucas was also nervous. Star Wars was expensive to make. He needed to film it outside of America for the Tatooine scenes (which were filmed in Tunisia). That, and the effects seemed like they might stop the film from making even enough money to recover from the cost of making the film itself. Lucas was even concerned that he had borrowed too much from Akira Kurosawa’s film The Hidden Fortress and even wanted to buy the rights to it just in case he should ever be accused of plagiarizing it. Eventually, he realized there was no need. It was a homage, not a remake.

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Memory Lane: Top 10 Best Disney Movies

disney

 

I’ve been a Disney fan for as long as I can remember. While I didn’t enjoy ever single animated movie, they were still good memories, and I still think of all the studios, Disney still has the best record. So for this week’s edition of Aspie Catholic, I’m counting down my favorite Disney movies. Some criteria first:

  1. I consider Pixar a separate entity. Originally, Disney merely distributed the movies. The same goes for Studio Ghibli movies, especially since not all Ghibli movies are distributed by Disney (Grave of the Fireflies and From Up On Poppy Hill for instance)
  2. No direct-to-video movies.
  3. I wanted to only talk about movies I grew up watching over and over. So I’m stopping with The Lion King. Anything made after that isn’t eligible, as I was an adult by that point.

So let’s begin.

lion-king

#10. The Lion King–This movie is often considered the beginning of a new renaissance for Disney, but in reality it’s not. Computer animation was started before this with The Great Mouse Detective,and using pop music started with Oliver and Company. This was more the result of good storytelling and marketing. It was the right place and time, while the others flopped due to poor timing. Besides that, Lion King is a magnificent movie, even if it’s borrowing from Shakespeare and Japanese animation.

robin-hood

#9. Robin Hood began a trend in Disney that continued with Mickey’s Christmas Carol and their version of the Three Musketeers starring Mickey, Donald, and Goofy–Making anthromorphic characters out of popular folklore. It was at a bad time for Disney, when they were recycling animation. But let’s not quibble over that. It’s still a good movie.

101

#8. 101 Dalmatians has been turned into a franchise thanks to its needless live-action version, but I like the original cartoon best. Cruella De Ville is one of my favorite Disney villains because of how over-the-top she is. Yes, Disney had scary villains like Scar and Maleficent, but sometimes their less frightening ones were still entertaining.

foxandhound

#7. Fox and the Hound was a great parable about racism cleverly disguised as a cute story. It’s a powerful story about how what we’re taught by society can destroy opportunities for true friendships.

littlemermaid

#6. The Little Mermaid was a beautiful rendition of the classic Hans Christian Andersen story. It was the start of Disney’s relationship with Alan Menken and Tim Rice, leading to other great scores in movies such as Aladdin and Lion King (Elton John recorded his versions separately. They were never used in the actual movie). Ursula is another one of the greatest Disney villains. Ariel was also the start of a new kind of Disney heroine–one who takes a more active role in the story than characters like Cinderella and Aurora from Sleeping Beauty.

great-mouse-detective

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Film Freak: The Killing Joke

killing-joke

One of my all-time favorite Joker stories is The Killing Joke. The story was controversial because it brutally changed the status quo: Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) was now paralyzed from the legs down. Because of this, she would later become the hacker Oracle. It also recounted the Joker’s origin, building on how he started out as The Red Hood. I personally believe this story helped Batgirl become a better character, more than just a female, younger version of Batman.

I was excited when I learned that an animated feature was being made. When I learned that Mark Hammil, Tara Strong, and Kevin Conroy were reprising their roles as The Joker, Batgirl, and Batman, I was even happier. The movie even became DC’s first animated feature to have an R-rating. That’s really the only way the story can be done. This is the Joker proving that everyone is as twisted and sadistic as him. He believes all everyone needs to push them over the brink is a “bad day”. And this is him giving Commissioner Gordon and Batman that “bad day”.

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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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