The Dead Boys – Sonic Reducer

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Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

The landscape of the punk era from the late 70’s is populated by hundreds – if not thousands – of bands that have gone unheralded by even the hippest of the hipsters. Some of these bands are discovered 30 years later and immediately embraced – some of them stay in obscurity (and will probably stay there). There are quite a number of bands that are on the fringe though – you’ve maybe heard their name or would even recognize a tune or two. The Dead Boys fall into this third class. They formed from the ashes of Rocket from the Tomb (who would later reform) and were championed by Joey Ramone. Following in The Ramones footsteps, the band  gained a reputation for over the top live performances – many of them coming at the legendary CBGB’s. Debut album Young, Loud and Snotty sometimes gets overlooked when discussing great punk records but it deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the Sex Pistols, The Ramones, and The Clash. Single “Sonic Reducer” is one of the greatest singles released, in any genre of music. It opens with a classic rock type intro before a memorable bass line enters the mix. The full band joins the onslaught and lead singer Stiv Bators sings full of true punk angst. The chorus is explosive and will remain lodged in your mind long after the 3 minute song is over. Think it sounds familiar but can’t quite place it? The bass line was sampled and used as the main melody of the Beastie Boys song “Open Letter to New York City”  in 2004 – proving not only the infinite coolness of the Beastie Boys, but the timelessness of this song. Key lyrics:

I’ll be your bearer soon, love on some cotton doom
Things will be different then, the sun will rise from here
Then I’ll be ten feet tall, then you’ll be nothing at all
I got my time machine, got my electronic dream
Sonic reducer, ain’t no loser

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John Lennon – Now and Then

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Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores lesser known tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

John Lennon’s life is well documented – both in print and on film (usually at the request of Mr. Lennon himself as well as Yoko Ono). His work with The Beatles changed the way musicians record and made the path from The Beatles to the Pet Shop Boys very clear by way of tape manipulation and sampling. When you get to his solo career public opinion seems to be a little more divided – not so with me. The back to basics approach of his solo records really suits what Lennon was trying to do away from the band setting. His works have been reissued, remastered, and he even had some of his “works in progress” released in a box set about 15 years ago. Two of his demos were remade into Beatles songs for the anthology album / video series. One of the finest songs John Lennon ever laid to tape was considered for the Beatles reunion and rejected by producer Jeff Lynn (of Electric Light Orchestra fame) because of an incessant buzzing that is on the tape. It has never been officially released which is a damn shame – it is a haunting portrayal of love and loss. The track appears to have been cut at home (The Dakota) sometime between 1975 and 1979. The emotion in John Lennon’s voice feels very real and there is a sadness lurking beneath the surface. The piano accompaniment provides a melancholy atmosphere and allows the weight of Lennon’s words to sink in with the listener. I picked up a bootleg back in the mid 90’s and have returned to it quite often over the years. The perfect John Lennon song, still officially unreleased as of 2013 and it breaks my heart every time I listen to it. Key lyrics:

I know it’s true
It’s all because of You
And if I make it through
It’s all because of you…
You…

And now and then
If we must start again
And we will know for sure

Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball

World War III has already taken place. Sure, you may be sitting there thinking “What the hell is Jason talking about” but let me explain. In 2005 Long Beach Island, NJ switched from carrying all Philadelphia area channels to New York City area channels. In my world that’s like asking a Chicago Cubs fan to cheer for the Chicago White Sox – not good. For generations Long Beach Island, NJ (and the Jersey shore) has been the vacation haven for all Philadelphians (about a 75 minute drive from where I grew up). My family (Grandfather David RIP, Grandmother, Aunt, Uncle) has owned at least 1 house or condo “down da shore” ever since I was a little boy. New York and Philadelphia are two different cities, two different cultures. To suddenly switch to NYC channels was more than a defeatist notion that NY natives could no longer afford their own state – it was offensive (though not as offensive as suggesting Philadelphia was a new affordable borough of NYC)

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