The Monkees – Good Times

the-monkees-good-times-cover-art-final-1200x1200

It goes without saying that I am one of those people that considers himself a Monkees fanatic. I have every album in various deluxe editions that have been released over the years. On lesser albums I’ve sifted through the filler to find the gems (there are not too many lesser albums though.) John Lennon may be one of my musical idols, but sometimes I just prefer to listen to The Monkees over The Beatles. Those late 60’s albums by the “Prefab Four” stand up to anything their peers were putting out at the time. Live, I’ve never seen all 4 at the same time. In 1997 I saw Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, and Peter Tork in Valley Forge, PA for the Justus tour. In 2012 I saw Micky Dolenz solo at a small casino just weeks after Davy Jones passed away. And in 2013 I saw Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork in downtown Seattle. All shows were memorable and expertly performed – the band members have come a long way from their origins as a make-believe band put together for a television show. A few months ago it was announced that The Monkees would be releasing a new album for their 50th anniversary. I wondered – would this be like The Beach Boys album from a few years ago (I can’t remember anything from that one) or would it be something special? The fact that the project was being produced by Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger gave me hope – I love Fountains of Wayne’s unique power pop perspective.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Chasing Yesterday

Chasing Yesterday

At their peak of popularity, Oasis were the biggest band…in the UK. Though they had a few hits in the US, they never broke the US market like many expected them to in the mid 90’s. Driven to success with the double-edged sword of talent & sibling rivalry, it all fizzled out in 2009 after a pre gig fight between Liam and Noel Gallagher. Critics mocked their reverent worship of The Beatles, but I admired it. Is it really so different from the latest crop of post-punk bands who worship at the altar of Joy Division? At their best, Oasis could hang with The Beatles. At their worst, they were left in the dust by The Rutles. Where does a band go when it all crashes down?

Continue reading

Ryan Adams – Wonderwall

wonderwall

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.

Following the dissolution of Alt-Country greats Whiskeytown, Ryan Adams immediately made an impact with his 1st two solo records, Heartbreaker and Gold. Those albums continued the roots based vibe, while adding a slightly more mainstream flavor that the Whiskeytown records had only hinted at. The accolades and good vibes were put to the side for the most part when it came to the Ryan Adams records of 2003 and 2004. Rock N Roll was Ryan Adams as The Strokes while Love Is Hell combined two EP’s that seemed to be a nod towards UK indie melancholy. Most of it didn’t really work for me, to be honest, but the cover of Wonderwall (originally by Oasis) is one of the best cover songs I’ve ever heard. The classic Britpop tune with nonsensical lyrics is here transformed into an acoustic lament. Liam Gallagher’s sneer is replaced by Ryan Adams’ country-ish twang. The song was released as a single and hit #27 in the UK. It even inspired Oasis to adopt the Ryan Adams version in concert for a short time. This is how cover versions should be done.

Oasis – Sad Song

1994oasisdefinitelymaybe600

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 early to mid 90’s Britpop movement brought a lifetime’s supply of musical gems. Dozens of bands put out albums and singles that looked to the 60’s British Invasion for inspiration, whilst putting their own spin on it. Among bands that broke into America, Oasis was #1 (Blur’s brief conquering of America was after their Britpop infatuation had passed). Punk rock attitude backed up by songs that were instant classics, Oasis was the 2nd coming of The Beatles (for just a moment in time). For me, they’ve been a hit or miss affair. Even some of their bigger hits featured lyrics that still make me cringe. But when they put all of the pieces of the puzzle together, I love them unreservedly. Sad Song was originally a bonus track on their debut record, Definitely Maybe, released in mid 1994. Bonus track meaning – only available on the vinyl and Japanese CD versions of the album. What a shame – this is one of the strongest songs Oasis ever cut to tape. This is an acoustic based song featuring Noel Gallagher on vocals instead of Liam. Haunting guitar licks, emotive vocals, and lyrics that resonate – the perfect package. The song is now easily available on the deluxe edition of Definitely Maybe so you can sing along to these words “and we cheat and we lie / nobody says it’s wrong / so we don’t ask why / cause it’s all just the same at the end of the day”