Spinal Tap Two

A short post today but one to confirm some very welcome news that came down the pipe last week. I had just discussed Spinal Tap a few weeks prior – I dug into the music as part of the Album Of The Week and I gave a post to the immortal film.

Last Thursday some earth shaking Spinal Tap news came out – Rob Reiner has confirmed that a second Spinal Tap film is in the works. This is a proper sequel to the 1984 film, in contrast to the 1992 offering that was mostly a live show. Spinal Tap II (or whatever it will be called) is intended for release in March 2024, which will coincide with the 40th anniversary of the original film.

This is very happy news, of course. Fans have clamored for a sequel ever since the original gained its cult-like following decades ago. The principal actors refused, saying they would only do it when they felt they had a good premise and the time was right. Apparently they found their premise and here we are, a shade under two years away from a Spinal Tap sequel.

Reiner has given some details about the film’s plot – the band, having been splintered apart for years, reconnects with Marty DiBergi after being unhappy about the documentary he filmed years ago. The band are on the hook for one more gig – in their contract with manager Ian Faith there remains one legally binding performance. Ian has passed on but his widow is calling in her owed performance, so the group must reunite for one more show.

It sounds like the troupe have a solid idea for a film that should tick many of the same boxes as the original. The cynical cash grab reunions of many legacy acts has been a long-running joke in the music world for a long time now, and it’s perfect fodder for Spinal Tap’s deadpan delivery.

I’ve notice a fair bit of negativity towards the announcement, but that’s not something I’ll really bother with. The cure for cancer would be shouted down online these days. I see no reason why a new Spinal Tap movie can’t work. It might not be the masterpiece the first one was but with the key players still involved there’s no reason it can’t be good.

We have a ways to go before this movie hits in March 2024. Hopefully society doesn’t collapse before then, it is a real possibility. But it’s great news that we’ll get to visit this glorious movie and band one more time and I have every hope for another killer masterpiece.

And one more thing – hopefully the reunion gig is booked in Cleveland.

Judas Priest – RnR HoF Class of 2022

I’ll have at a quick post today to discuss the unexpected but very welcome news that came down yesterday – Judas Priest will be among the inductees to the 2022 Class of the Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame.

The induction is kind of surprising. Priest were on a months-long fan ballot with other acts and did not place well in the results. The institution behind the Hall of Fame has always stated that the fan ballot is only one component of selection and so the group saw fit to grant Judas Priest induction.

In fact the group is being inducted in a different category from the typical “performers” one. Priest are being inducted via the Musical Excellence category. This is not a very big deal, despite some of the wankery being aired on social media about it. There are several different categories for the HoF so getting in by way of this one is not some huge issue.

With induction to the HoF comes the issue of who exactly gets in. In the case of Judas Priest, the following members will be inducted – current members Rob Halford, Ian Hill, Scott Travis and Glenn Tipton will be enshrined. Along with them, former members K.K. Downing, Les Binks and Dave Holland will also be inducted.

This does leave a few people out, of course. Original Priest singer Al Atkins won’t be inducted and I’m sure he’ll have something to say about it. Halford’s replacement in the 90’s Tim “Ripper” Owens also will not be enshrined, and I’m sure will be gracious as he often is about such things. There are a smattering of other members with some contributions but the Rock Hall generally just gets the classic-era names in for induction.

There are a few points of potential drama with a few of the names on the former members list. I won’t even get into one of them, I don’t know how that’s gonna play out but hey, they’re inducting him so I guess that’s decided. In the case of K.K. Downing there has been some past acrimony over his departure, but there’s no point in getting into all of that now. Early indications are that Downing is very happy about the induction and Rob Halford has already extended an invitation for Downing to be there so I’ll just play the part of the optimist and hope it all ends well.

But in the end drama is just drama, the point still stands – Judas Priest will be in the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. I wasn’t really expecting to see the day, I’d honestly given up on the institution years ago. I’ve deliberately avoided writing posts about who I think are the biggest snubs and things like that – I would prefer to just not give a shit about the whole thing. But I will set all that aside to celebrate the very deserved induction of one of my favorite groups and one of heavy metal’s pioneering outfits. It is fully earned and finally realized, and may the world celebrate the glory of Judas Priest later this year at their induction to the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame.

Holiday 2021

This upcoming week marks a bigger holiday here in the US. It’s Wild Turkey Wednesday, Black Friday and some day inbetween where we eat a lot, idk.

Anyway, I am going to take a small break from posting over this next week. I have a lot of half-finished posts I need to get done and I want to get my content for the rest of the year and into early next year mapped out. I’ll have some extra time off this week so I can get these posts nailed down and I’ll also finally get to setting up YouTube stuff, which is some time-consuming shit.

Enjoy the week, especially Wild Turkey Wednesday, which is the true reason for the season as they say. I can’t think of any good Thanksgiving-related songs so here’s Motorhead.

Cool Music Videos

Today I wanted to chill out for a bit and have a look back at a handful of cool music videos. The music video used to define the landscape, MTV was as important in getting people to buy records as radio was. Nowadays more acts than ever can make really good videos, but it takes a lot to get eyeballs on them. They aren’t the way to reel in listeners like they were in the past.

There is no connecting theme here or anything – I’m just pulling up a few videos I remember from way back, or whenever on the timeline they fall.

Dire Straits – Money For Nothing

This video made use of early computer animation in an unlikely and groundbreaking way to put forth a video that took on a life of its own and stood out even beyond Dire Straits’ massively successful Brothers In Arms album. It was the talk of everywhere when it hit.

What’s funny is that I don’t think I’ve seen this video in full since it originally aired on MTV. I never have looked it up on YouTube, until now. The video might seem dated by today’s standards, sure, but I still remember how unreal it was at the time. It probably won’t land with younger audiences much, though I see some love for it in the video’s comment section.

Tool – Prison Sex

This was crazy stuff in the early ’90’s – another kind of animation technique not widely used at the time and in part put together by Tool’s guitarist Adam Jones. The video itself got played fairly regularly on MTV for a bit – until people found it too uncomfortable and yanked it from the airwaves. It got a second life on Beavis and Butthead a bit on down the road.

I’m not entirely sure what the song is about, though plenty of other Tool fans will be happy to slug it out in arguments over the meaning. It’s certainly not a pleasant topic, some form of abuse. The video disturbingly yet also amazingly portrays that theme in its animation.

Journey – Separate Ways

If you would have told me decades ago that I would unironically consider a video of Journey playing air instruments in front a pier-side warehouse one of the best videos of all time, I would have looked at you really funny. Yet here we are and I am offering just that opinion – this video is fantastic.

This is just so unreal and so 1980’s. Journey crafts a wonderful pop rock song and gets zero budget for their video apparently, so this is what we get. And after I reached adulthood and looked back on the video I couldn’t help but smile fondly. It is as goofy as it gets, but damn if it isn’t awesome.

Guns N Roses – Estranged

I went over this song pretty extensively in September when I did my in-depth analysis of the Use Your Illusion albums. I didn’t get too much occasion to discuss the video specifically though.

The song is an absolute masterpiece and the video matches the music blow-for-blow. Video-wise it’s the end of a trilogy that also includes Don’t Cry and November Rain, though I don’t know if the songs themselves play into that (they kinda seem like they do, at least loosely).

The video was clearly big-budget, I would assume more money went into it than many theatrical release movies of the time. It does spell the end of Guns N Roses’ time in the sun, as the band would splinter apart in a few years after this final single from their double album was released.

The video showcases Axl’s eccentricy and self-centerness, sure, but it’s still an honest take of the band at the time and probably goes a long way to painting the picture of this song. The way the song goes into its final movement, one of the most powerful in music, right when Axl jumps off the ship around the 7 minute mark is just perfect timing.

Kiss – Lick It Up

Kiss missed out on the music video format with a lot of their early material. It’s a shame that such a visual, theatrical band didn’t get to shoot music videos for their top-flight 70’s output. Just imagine what we could have gotten out of that.

Instead, we get ’80’s no-makeup Kiss wandering a post-apocalyptic wasteland but with hot women who want to party. It’s like Mad Maxine Beyond Thunderdome, I don’t know. I do know that I really like this video, even if it is honestly kinda cringe.

The song is one of Kiss’ stronger ones from their ’80’s catalog and this video is – well, certainly a video. I can’t help but like it though, this is what I grew up on. It does appear that ¾ of the band is all about the video, while Gene Simmons might have benefited from keeping his demon makeup on.

Muse – Knights Of Cydonia

Let’s wind up with something from this side of the millennium line. This goofy western/sci-fi/kung fu mash up to a sillier than shit song about who knows what somehow winds up being one of the best music videos ever committed to film.

The video is just splendid. It’s a mini feature film, replete with plot and characters. The band only appears as brief hologram projections, I guess that’s fine since they looked like the Gallagher brothers playing alongside James Hetfield anyway. The good kung fu cowboy guy and the girl ride off into the sunset after bad cowboy kung fu guy is digitally vaporized, so I guess everyone goes home happy in the end.

There isn’t a lot more for me to say about it. The video is widely celebrated as one of the best music videos ever made and the song is towards the top of any list of Muse tracks. A pretty good marriage of song and film here.

The Importance Of Being Idle – Will Oasis Ever Reunite?

It’s time to wrap up Oasis week here on The Crooked Wanderer. I’ve enjoyed going through what I have so far, remembering Definitely Maybe and gifting S-Tier status to Don’t Look Back In Anger. I would have loved to write up a discussion of the Knebworth documentary that hit theaters yesterday, but sadly no theater in my town showed it. I’ll give some space to that when I can watch the film and also when the album and concert footage releases in November.

Of course there are many other things to talk about with Oasis. I’ll eventually cover other albums and songs as time goes on. I just wanted to spend a moment with them on the week of the Knebworth release.

But there is a huge elephant in the room when it comes to Oasis and it’s now time to discuss that. Oasis came to an end in 2009 when Noel Gallagher left the band after yet another altercation with his brother, singer Liam Gallagher. Noel would immediately start a solo career, while Liam and the remaining Oasis members briefly toured the ill-fated Beady Eye project. Liam would launch his own successful solo career in the late 2010’s.

The question is pretty simple – will Oasis ever get back together? Reunion tours are big business in music and Oasis has captured a wave of nostalgia in recent years that would set the table for a literal truckload of cash. There are several factors to consider in trying to answer this question.

First of all, Noel and Liam have engaged in a rather bitter sibling rivalry in the decade since Oasis split up. I’m not going to recount specifics but it’s not hard to find examples of the two slagging each other off. The feud has gotten extremely personal at times and it does feel like one of the irreconcilable matters. They really, truly do not like one another.

Secondly, Noel does not show any real inclination to get the band back together. He has pursued several experimental musical directions with his High Flying Birds project and every word he has said about an Oasis reunion has been negative. Liam, however, seems ready to do a reunion show the next day if only it would materialize.

An Oasis reunion would be a big-ticket event. There is demand from fans old and new, as their music has transcended its moment in time and lives on today. It’s often cynical when old bands get back together but there is a convergence of interest and nostalgia involved with Oasis that would send that tour to the moon.

I’m gonna be real – I honestly don’t think an Oasis reunion will happen. I take Noel at face value when he says he’s not interested. I think a lot of people want to believe something is brewing behind the scenes, what with the work that went into the Knebworth documentary and the brothers’ high profiles in the past few years. But I really am just not seeing it. Noel has been unequivocal in his dismissal of the reunion concept and of his brother.

Sure, the tour would be huge money. But Noel has made mention of the small fortune he already has. If money were his motivation we would already have had a reunion to talk about. He seems touched by the fond recollections of Oasis fans but seems very interested in going forward with his own vision, and his vision is one not owing to reminiscing.

I could, of course, be wrong, and Oasis might announce a reunion tour the second after I post this, or perhaps after the pandemic has run its course (when the hell ever that will be…). But based on my obviously uniformed opinion as nothing more than a fan, I honestly do not see a world where Oasis gets back together.

I’ll leave with this Noel quote from the How To Wow podcast a few weeks ago. Noel addresses the state of his and Liam’s solo careers, and I think it truly illustrates Noel’s mindset regarding an Oasis reunion.

“He’s doing massive gigs, he’s selling more records than I am and he’s selling more tickets than I am, if you can believe that.”

“So he’s doing his thing and I’m doing mine and we’re both pretty happy doing that at the moment.”

“Liam’s doing his thing, he’s responsible for the legacy being what it is, he’s keeping the flame alive and all that and good for him.”

Cutting Room Floor – Use Your Illusion II

Yesterday I began the daunting task of turning the two massive Guns N Roses records from 1991, the Use Your Illusion series, into one awesome album. I’m playing with a run time of 70 minutes so that I get a bit of a challenge out of it.

Before I get busy on the cutting room floor I do want to cover the fact that the record label already did what I’m doing. There is a version of Use Your Illusion that is a single-disc album that clocks in at 63 minutes.

But their reason for doing it and my reason for doing this don’t line up – I am trying to make an all killer, no filler version of these albums. The record label did it because the big box retail stores wouldn’t stock records with the dreaded “Parental Advisory” sticker so they cut a clean version for retail.

I’m here to tell you – here at The Crooked Wanderer, I like to cuss. I use colorful language from time to time. My records will never be in stock at Wal-Mart or …. oh yeah, the rest of the old big box stores are dead now.

Anyway, back to the task at hand. I’m going to evaluate the songs on Use Your Illusion II and decide what automatically gets included on my final version, which songs will carry on to the next round for consideration and which will hit the cutting room floor right here and now. Let’s rock and roll.

Guns N Roses – Use Your Illusion II

Civil War (7:42)

So Doctor Strange can review 14 million scenarios where the Avengers take on Thanos and find exactly one where the good guys win. But the good doctor can’t find even one scenario where I leave Civil War off of the final record.

This is easily one of my favorite Guns N Roses songs. Not just in relation to the album its on but in consideration of their entire catalog. It absolutely has to be on the album.

14 Years (4:21)

I always dug this Izzy Stradlin-led jam. It’s smooth, rollicking and pretty kick ass. I could maybe it but the fact is it would be the first one on the pile I grabbed to put on the record so let’s just do it now – it has to be on the final cut.

Yesterday (3:16)

One of the double album’s many singles and a very nice song. I am going to maybe this because of time considerations but I have a feeling it’ll work its way on the list in the end.

Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (5:36)

Of course the band were gonna cover one of Bob Dylan’s most well-known and oft-covered cuts. (GnR had previously done this song live and in studio). This was a well-executed rendition that updated the song for the 1990’s. I don’t know what the whole speech thing in the interlude is about but it’s whatever. I’ll maybe this because things are gonna get tight in the final battle for space on this record and I don’t know if 2 cover songs are the way to go on a single album.

Get In The Ring (5:41)

This is an interesting one. On one hand, it’s petty as all hell and shows Axl’s less than savory side in full light. On the other hand, the media always were, are now, and always will be a total pain in the ass so I can understand where he’s coming from.

And in the end I gotta roll with it. Gotta go with the good, the bad and the ugly and honestly it’s a pretty killer track. Get In The Ring has to be on the final cut.

Shotgun Blues (3:23)

This is a really cool song that I always liked. I have to maybe it due to time constraints but it’ll certainly be a contender when we get to the finish line.

Breakdown (7:04)

Ok so this song is all right. Has some slight callbacks to “Sweet Child O’ Mine” through some guitar inflections and it’s overall a decent tune. But it’s also a hard NO because it doesn’t have the same weight as other stuff here and it’s a bloated corpse at 7 minutes.

Pretty Tied Up (4:47)

It’s a pretty cool song and I certainly can appreciate the subject matter. I will have to maybe it and I kinda feel like it gets lost in the shuffle, it’s a bit meandering compared to the heavy hitters there are to deal with.

Locomotive (8:42)

The song is pretty badass but there really just isn’t room for something nearly 9 minutes long that doesn’t totally rule. This feels like more of a b-side to me, so it’s a NO.

So Fine (4:06)

This Duff-led song is ok but I don’t really need to dwell on it too much – it’s a NO. Don’t really have room for it. I do think the world of Duff though, he seems like such an awesome dude.

Estranged (9:23)

The last video in the Del James trilogy, and the most self-indulgent one where Axl swims with dolphins or some shit.

And it’s also one of the best songs on the album. Epic, powerful and builds to a super heavy conclusion. This absolutely has to be on the record.

You Could Be Mine (5:43)

This was the lead single for both albums. A tie-in with the summer movie blockbuster Terminator 2 – Judgment Day brought both the band and movie front and center in the cultural landscape of 1991. The song is a total banger and is probably the most well-executed hard rocker on both discs. It 100% has to be on the final album.

Don’t Cry – Alternate Version (4:44)

As covered in the first part, the original version of Don’t Cry is in the maybe pile. As such, there is no room for the same song with some different stuff going on in it. This one is a NO.

My World (1:24)

The over-wrought albums end with a weird electronic music, quasi-rap thing from Axl. I am overall an album-oriented listener and as such I find little interlude things to be fun and sometimes interesting. But no chance in Hell should an album end on something like that. This is not essential listening by any means so it gets voted off the record. NO

So now I have a pile of have to’s and maybe’s. Adding up the times of my have to’s I get a running time of 44:51. That leaves me with 25 minutes to fill for a 70 minute album. Even with me including several of the longer songs I have plenty of room to work with.

It’s also worth mentioning that yeah, I obviously favor the second album. It does bog down some in its middle section but it picks back up with a few of the best songs on either record. I never really had sat and wondered which of the two I liked more but I think we have that answer right in front of us.

So now I have my lists. Tomorrow the exercise concludes with the work of picking through the maybe pile to see what fills out the record. Then Friday I’ll give some time to discuss my 5 favorite tracks overall. My bloated 4-part exploration of these 2 bloated albums is getting ready to round the bend.

Playlist discussion – Best of Rock 1990

Ok so this won’t be what anyone would consider “top tier” content. This is scraping the bottom for stuff to post. I didn’t have a Friday post ready for this first week so I went back to this idea I had worked on a bit a few months ago as I was preparing to re-enter the blogosphere.

I sat through the “Best of Rock 1990” playlist on Spotify and checked it out. I wrote what I thought about each song down. I quit doing it a thrid of the way through because there are 60 damn songs on this list and no one cares what anyone thinks about every one of them.

So in desperate need of content to float me through my first few weeks of a new blog, I decided to revisit this and pare it down to where I just discuss a handful of the songs. I left off a few things that I’m going to do more in-depth posts about later and I also left off some that all I have to say is “why did you write that?” It’s also out of order because I think Spotify shuffles stuff around on these sometimes and because this whole thing is kinda boring.

Anyway, let’s get into it.

AC/DC – “Thunderstruck”

Good way to open. I know people are down on AC/DC but I always dug ’em, and Razor’s Edge specifically was a badass record. This always was one of their better songs.

Scorpions – “Wind of Change”

I played the shit out of Crazy World back in the day. Yeah, I know the CIA maybe secretly wrote this song. I gotta check that podcast out someday.

Jon Bon Jovi – “Blaze of Glory”

I actually do dig this song. Sure it’s whatever, but I always jammed out to it when I was young and dumb. Now that I’m older and dumb I’d still play it but I never really do.

The Black Crowes – “Hard To Handle”

The Crowes are all over this playlist and with good reason. The whole album is a monster. One of the best things to come from the year.

INXS – “Suicide Blonde”

The death of Michael Hutschene was to sex what the death of Dale Earnhart Sr. was to auto racing. Advances in auto-erotic asphyxiation devices have kept generations safe in lonely hotel rooms since. I know I feel safer.

Oh yeah, the song totally slays. INXS were badass.

Alice In Chains – “Man In The Box”

I’m all about AIC, I took to them right off the bat when this vid hit MTV back when MTV was MTV. Sure, local cover bands beat this song to death in every dive bar across our great land. But that doesn’t deter my enjoyment of it.

Bad Religion – “21st Century (Digital Boy)”

Here we are with the first thing I’m not familiar with on here. I never did give this band a proper listen and I don’t remember if I’ve ever heard this song. I should definitely throw the band onto the “check out” pile. This song is fine, I don’t know where the band’s fans rank this recording or anything like that.

Jane’s Addiction – “Stop”

Jane’s were a good time back in the day. This song does a bit more for me than the ever-present “Been Caught Stealing” but it’s all good.

Queensryche – “Silent Lucidity”

So yeah, it’s that song that scored big for them and also marked a pretty big shift in their sound. That’s a bit misleading though since they reshaped their sound on every prior record anyway. I’m cool with it and it was my intro to the band. I went to buy this tape but it was sold out and so I settled for their prior album. That changed my fucking life.

Poison – “Unskinny Bop”

Nothing like a Poison track to usher in a new decade. This surely flew the flag for hair metal and ensured it would carry on through the next ten years.

I was into Poison when I was young. Like, I asked for their second album for Christmas and I got the tape. My mom went through and tore out a huge part of the insert that had bunch of pictures of them partying, often with scantily-clad women. Gotta love those good Christian households, always looking out for your welfare.

I don’t really mess with Poison these days but hearing the stuff now and again doesn’t really bother me.

Blues Traveller – “But Anyway”

Oh yeah, this is the song from Kingpin. Love that movie. But anyway, I’m not a huge BT fan though this is a pretty cool song.

Cocteau Twins – “Heaven Or Las Vegas”

Ok so I do like shoegaze but I literally just started listening to it last month so I don’t know jack about it. MBV and Slowdive are like all I really know about, which if the memes are to be believed, means I know all I need to know.

I know that CT predate shoegaze but they were clearly very influential to the movement. That doesn’t mean I really want to listen to much more of this, though.

Depeche Mode – “Enjoy The Silence”

I do really like Depeche Mode. That said, Violator is the only album I’ve ever owned of theirs. But yeah they were/are really good and this happens to be my favorite song of theirs.

I didn’t realize this came out in 1990, I thought it was earlier. Oh well, time is made up anyway.

Midnight Oil – “Blue Sky Mine”

So I only know that song about the burning beds from them that I mistakenly thought Talking Heads did. This song is fine but I don’t really have to have it in my life. 1990 was weird, man.

I think that about covers it. 1990 was the year before I absolutely dove headfirst into music so this was kind of a “before the storm” time for me anyway. What would happen in 1991 would blow apart the music landscape and then by the end of the decade I don’t know what the hell anyone was doing. We’ll call this good and try to post stuff that isn’t as lame. (Next week is a good week for that, by the way)

Welcome

Hey everyone. Welcome to my new blog.

For context – I blogged, in some form, almost constantly between 1998 and 2011. I decided to take a break in 2011 to refocus my efforts and hone in on a single topic blog I would want to dedicate my time to.

I guess a decade break is long enough.

My purpose this time is to talk about a signular topic – music. I’ve been a music junkie for over 30 years now. Listening, collecting, playing and discussing music is a lot of what I have done and will do. I used to write about music in past blogs but it was never a total focus. But gone are the days of word vomiting onto a screen about anything and in are the days of curated content creation, so off I go.

As for what kinds of stuff I’ll be talking about? Well, by and large, metal is my go-to. It’s the largest part of what I listen to and what I know. It’s beent he most transformative force in my life and has provided a lot of memories and friends over the decades. I’ll be talking a lot about metal around here.

And hey, look – my favorite band of all time is releasing a new album soon. That’ll give me some content to grind on as I get this out of the starting gate.

I did decide though that I’m not going to focus exclusively on metal. I thought about it at first but then I said the hell with it, just roll with whatever I want to. “Anything else” will involve rock or country, neither of which are all that far apart from metal anyway.

I’m looking to begin with a post schedule of Monday, Wednesday and Friday as I start out. This might falter a bit at first but hey, it’s not like I have an audience to disappoint right now anyway. Some weeks may see extra posts on the two days that start with T. I don’t intend to post at all on weekends, those are for drinking beer and headbanging.

I think that about covers it for now. I’ll be back on Monday with my first Album of the Week. Until then, keep it loud.