My thanks to the fictional Ben Wyatt and my non-fictional wife for inspiring this post!
Time to get back.
Back to where I (once) belong every September.
Back to school.
As you might have guessed, I’ve recently found myself singing The Beatles’ Get Back, in particular the line about California Grass.
I have a sneaking suspicion Sir Paul McCartney wasn’t talking about the school-approved GRASS method for problem solving. Nevertheless, I will conveniently pretend he was and use the GRASS method to try and figure out the Red Hot Chili Peppers and their fasciantion with the state of California.
Before listening to Californication, this is what I suspected would be the case:
Time for the GRASS method to see if my hypothesis is correct (and who says you never use this stuff in “real life”) :D
In 1999, The Red Hot Chili Peppers released the album Californication, produced by Rick Rubin. It marked the return of ace guitarist John Frusciante and was commercially and critically successful.
Based on the album title and Anthony Kiedis’s penchant for singing about his home state, do the lyrics actually contain any other words?
A: Application (what strategy will be used to solve the problem)
I will record the number of times the prefix “Californi-” is said/sung. Next, I will prepare a properly labelled line graph using Excel.
Here are my results.
I was pleased to see Kiedis was capable of name-checking other geographic locations. Although it seemed like California was referenced all the time, it turns out the state tends to feature prominently in the singles but not so much in the rest of the album tracks.
Confession: I like, but don’t love the Red Hot Chili Peppers. At least not when listening to music by myself.
That being confessed, I still admire them more than perhaps any other active musicians.
- Frusciante’s guitar work is never flashy but always exactly appropriate.
– Flea’s bass prowess is well documented and his turn as Needles in Back to the Future II & III remains criminally underrated
– Kiedis has that instantly identifiable quality that I look for in a lead singer
– And let’s face it, Will Ferrell can really play those drums!
For whatever reason, that admiration doesn’t translate into craving the Chilis.
I’d probably put them in the same respect-but-don’t-really-listen-to-category as The White Stripes.
In fact, I’ll borrow a rating I used in one of my White Stripes reviews: I’d be thrilled to listen to any of these Californication tunes…if it came on in a friend’s car.
This album reminds me of driving in cars with friends towards the end of high school. That sort of nostalgia rarely hurts an album’s case and this RHCP revisit was no exception.
It took some discipline not to shorten the subject to “R”tists.
It also took some editing to trim the list down to 5!
5. Refreshments, The
They may have over-committed to the ‘bandits on the run to Mexico’ motif but their two mid-90s records (Fizzy, Fuzzy, Big and Buzzy & The Bottle and the Fresh Horses) are keepers. Their King of the Hill theme song is also Top 5 Theme Songs-worthy.
Has there been a better trio?
There are better albums than Automatic for the People. But not many.
A band with 2 of my Top 5 albums. Tough to argue with those credentials.
The Chili Peppers and one of my least favourite Radiohead discs are up next, enjoy!
Well it took until album #338 but it appears I finally hit a point where the project felt a bit like work.
Through no fault of the album however; I am completely responsible for 3 reasons!
1) My self-imposed themes
Up until now, even in the alphabet series, I’ve had an abundance (or as Cheri OTeri would say on SNL, abbondanza) of choice. Alas with the ‘Q’s, I’d already completed the other albums and so this was my one and only option for a Q review. It’s the first time I felt I ‘had’ to listen to a record and as I move along with the project, I know it won’t be remotely close to the last.
2) I’m on summer holidays
My preferred way to listen to music in the summer? On my first generation 1GB iPod nano (not meaning to brag) while out for a run. I didn’t have a digital copy of this record and it was a struggle to fit in uninterrupted 50+ minute listening sessions indoors.
Vacationing without the right music on my iPod? Imagine the hardships!
3) I hang out with small kids
I enjoy when there is unexpected overlap between the 1001 albums & my daughter’s music selections. Last summer, there was a week of surprising Johnny Cash & Raffi parallels. This year, it’s Happy Trails and the Brave soundtrack.
We’ve had Brave playing in the car a fair bit recently. It’s a strange album format:
- It opens with a few minutes of more conventional songs/song structures
- These are followed by long instrumental stretches, occasionally dropping down to incredibly sparse almost inaudible arrangements. Just as I’m about to check the speakers, the bagpipes come blaring back in.
- I’m all for recurring themes and I enjoy variety in dynamics. When there’s at least one daughter sleeping in the car, I was hesitant to, to borrow a Christian Slater movie title, Pump Up the Volume.
As you might have guessed, replace ‘bagpipes’ with ‘lead guitar’ & ‘the car’ to ‘her bedroom’, and the above observations also apply to my Happy Trails home listening experience.
Although I initially considered complaining about the audio levels (the lead guitar tended to overpower the other instruments), I do appreciate when live recordings are kept as perfectly imperfect documents (a la Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison).
This Quicksilver Messenger Service record also doesn’t do anything to dissuade me from 1969 being anything less than the finest year for popular music.
I’m looking forward to checking this one out again at some point.
I’d say when it’s on my own terms but in this case, it’s my terms that were the problem!
With some help from a couple of princesses…
Last week I posted a “Q”uiz with the seemingly insurmountable challenge: without search engines/peeking at record collections, list as many “Q” artists as you can in 60 seconds. That is, artists without the 5-letter sequence Q-U-E-E-N.
Colour me impressed.
I managed a meager 2: Quiet Riot and Finley Quaye.
Many of you wow-ed me by topping my score, others restored my faith in humanity by confessing the inadvertent counting of ineligible groups.
One blogger takes the cake with 7 – congrats to Bruce @ Vinylconnection!
His quick-recall artists:
…that’s good enough for me!
There were a plethora of “P” artists but I had a bit of a quandary when I arrived at the “Q” artists.
So instead of me making a top 5, it’s time for a pop quiz!
If the quiz doesn’t go well, don’t be discouraged: I made the quiz and I only got a score of 2. If someone hits the elusive score of 5, my eternal respect!
The Rules (because what’s more fun than adhering to strict quiz policies):
1) No google searching/looking at computer playlists or personal record collections!
2) Set a timer for 60 seconds. Start the timer once you finish reading all the instructions.
3) Make a list of all the artists you can think of beginning with the letter Q that DO NOT contain the 5-letter sequence Q-U-E-E-N.
Once the 60 seconds have expired, write down the number of artists you were able to recall (but not their names!) in the comments section.
Your 60 seconds begin…now.
Thanks for playing!
The results are in!
As of the completely arbitrary cut-off date of some time earlier this afternoon, here are the final standings in the Friends of P Poll.
Top “P” Artist of the…
60s: Pink Floyd, with 10 of 18 votes. Worth noting that the first Pink Floyd 1001 entry occured in 1967, hence their seemingly nonsensical categorization as a 60s artist!
70s: Police, The, with 10 out of 16 votes. Curiously, two voters abstained from choosing a 70s artist.
80s: Pixies, with only 7 of 18 votes, but with full voting panel participation! Impressively, each of the 5 choices (Pixies, Prince, Pet Shop Boys, Pretenders, Pogues) picked up at least 2 votes.
90s: Pearl Jam, edging out Pulp 6-5 out of the full 18.
2000s: Surprisingly, no “P”s made the 1001, but write-in votes included Perversor, Power from Hell, Power Trip, Postal Service, Pulled Apart By Horses, and Pete & the Pirates. As I believe they were mentioned most frequently, The Postal Service takes it.
Now of course this poll was chronologically-correct but I’d imagine many of you would be like me: many of your favourite “P”s hail from the same decade.
Here is my no restrictions/rules/regulations Top 5 “P” Artists:
5. Police, The
Among my favourite trios. Stewart Copeland, love the cymbal flourishes!
He had a funny appearance on a semi-recent episode of The New Girl. That and some of the best music of the 80s.
Best Britpop album? Different Class. This is Hardcore might also get the nod as the best ‘Britpop hangover’ record.
2. Pearl Jam
I get it when people aren’t fans of Eddie Vedder’s voice. As shown in my strongly worded, dot-matrix printed letter to MuchMusic, I didn’t used to be either.
Ian over at the80sdidntsuck recently had a good post about not understanding Pavement’s appeal.
I’ll attempt to answer his fair question, “What have I missed?” in the only way I know how.
Here is a Top 5 within a Top 5 (to quote Keanu Reeves in the Matrix, Whoa), explaining why Pavement is, much like his site, the Cat’s Pyjamas:
a) They aren’t the Bee Gees. As Wayne Campbell noted in Wayne’s World, “Led Zeppelin didn’t write tunes that everybody liked. They left that up to the Bee Gees.”
If you write something that everyone likes, chances are everybody will like it, but few will love it. Think of Pavement like the Alexander Keith’s slogan, those who like it, like it a lot. Except replace the second like with a stronger adjective.
b) They lasted the perfect amount of time. 5 records over 7 years. Successful reunion tour in 2010.
c) As I confessed when reviewing Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (incidentally, the optimal starting point for Pavement appreciation) Stephen Malkmus is my favourite lyricist.
d) They have a ‘sound’ without ever sounding repetitive or stooping to self-plagiarism
e) They’re one of my favourite bands and I don’t necessarily love all their songs. They swing & miss occasionally but when they connect (as they do with songs like Gold Soundz, Harness Your Hopes, and Shady Lane), to borrow their third album title, Wowee zowee!
Longest post ever, complete, thank you for your endurance.
The letter “Q” is up next, get ready for a quiz!