Friday, October 31, 2008

Ghouls Night Out

Next to the Jersey Devil, and possibly Bon Jovi, the scariest thing to ever emerge from the depths of the Garden State are the Misfits. Formed in 1977 by high school buddies in Lodi, the Mistfits would become the biggest Horror Punk act ever. Combining thrashing, three chord punk with schlock-horror lyrics and sing-along style choruses, their music has forever ranked these Jersey boys in the upper echelon of Punk Rock.

I can remember the first time I dyed my hair with Clairol Nice-n-Easy blue-black and styled my own devilock. A certified member of the 'fiend' club, the Misfits were, and still are, one of my favorite bands.

Having a fractured career spanning over 30 years, the band, in it's different incarnations, has spent more time in the courtroom than O.J., yet still manage to satiate their fans with incredible live shows.

Aside from the Misfits, no Halloween post would be complete without a few of the old standbys. First we have the original Monster of Rock, Bobby 'Boris' Pickett performing 1962's novelty hit, the 'Monster Mash' backed by the infamous Crypt-Kicker Five. In this ghoulish classic, Mr. Pickett poses the question 'Whatever happened to my Transylvania twist? I Googled it and unfortunately there are no easy answers.

Next up there's 'Werewolves of London', the perennial AOR FM staple from the late rock genius Warron Zevon. Seems like classic rock radio has never been able to let go of this one, yet never delved any further into the tremendous musical legacy he left us. Pretty scary, but typical.

I've also included a personal favorite from the quintessential hippie/flower child, Donovan. 'Season of the Witch', originally released on his smash 'Sunshine Superman' LP in 1966, was later the inspiration and title for horror director George A. Romero's 1971 low budget flick about a suburban witch. What's scary here is just how unscary a horror movie can be.

What follows is the penultimate music video by the King of Pop. Michael Jackson's still thrilling 'Thriller' from 1983's album of the same name. As it turns out, his real life is far more frightening that any video.

What may be the most horrifying, yet amazing clip comes from the inmates at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center in the Philippines. Check out over 1500 inmates in lock-step, flawlessly performing the dance sequence from Thriller. Did I miss a memo? What happened to cons making license plates?

I'm just sayin'.

Ghouls Night Out
Horror Business

Monster Mash

Werewolves of London

Season of the Witch

Bobby Pickett- The Monster Mash (1973)
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The Misfits- The Monster Mash (1999)

Original WPIX 'Chiller' Opening

Warron Zevon- Werewolves of London (1978)

Donovan- Season of the Witch (1966)

Michael Jackson- Thriller (1983)
Music Videos by VideoCure

CPDRC inmates- Thriller (2007)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Same Chimp, New Bananas

Last week I was discussing the frenetic and indiscriminate nature of Actual Monkey with a regular visitor, (Yes, they exist). They commented that my musical tastes were so diverse, they were borderline schizophrenic.

Nonsense, we exclaimed.

To quiet the voices in and out of my head, I've decided to add a few new features to AM. The first is Audient Monkey. Every so often I will highlight my five favorite songs from one of the countless artists I rely on to get me through the day.

The second is the Monkey Mix Tape. In this day and age of the click and drag playlist, the art of threading a narrative through song has somehow been lost, I will rectify this.

The goal, if there is one, is to provide some semblance to the strands that comprise my musical DNA. That and the ability to haphazardly throw one up and be done with it.

I'm just sayin'.

To get this party started, here are my top 5 favorite Talking Heads songs, in no particular order. I am prompted to start with the Heads, after repeatedly hearing 'Once In A Lifetime' in the trailer for the new Oliver Stone biopic 'W.' In hindsight, they could have just used the following.

P.S. What happened to David Byrne? Guess he believed his own hype. A shame really.

Audient Monkey Vol. 1 No.1- Talking Heads

Crosseyed & Painless
I Zimbra
Burning Down The House
Once In A Lifetime
This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ambrosia? Sounds Delicious!

A staple of the Lite FM diet and personal guilty pleasure of mine, this marshmallow-soft rock quartet perfected the recipe for the sappy love song:

Mix one part sentimental schmaltz with a dash of falsetto harmonizing, let simmer.

Fold a generous helping of feel-good electric piano into two cups of easy listening groove.

Whip ingredients into a fluffy froth. Add saxaphone to taste and serve.

The result: the most saccharine sweet treat you'll ever hear. They don;t call it food of the gods for nothing.

I'm just sayin'.

You're The Biggest part Of Me

How Much I Feel

Ambrosia- You're The Biggest Part Of Me

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cansei de Ser Sexy - Translation: Lucky Break

Back in the day, to gain favorable airplay, record execs would pony up cash to guys like Alan Freed to get their artists on heavy rotation. This was called Payola. Nowadays, some kid makes a YouTube video with a song from an unknown band, which goes viral. It catches the ear of some hipster art director at an ad agency and voila, instant worldwide hit. The kid is Nick Haley, the agency is Chiat/TBWA, the product is the Apple iPod Touch, the song is 'Music Is My Hot Sex' and the band is CSS. Not exactly Payola, but definitely one of the luckiest breaks ever.

CSS, abbreviated from Cansei de Ser Sexy, is the Brazilian Electroclash troupe that enjoyed explosive overnight global success just weeks after the spot broke in 2007, propelling the song to a level of international recognition not seen (or heard) since Los Del Rios scored with the hip-gyrating, wedding-reception staple, the Macarena.

The iPod Touch ad has been viewed over 112 million times, subsequently pushing 'Music Is My Hot Sex' right up the charts. It reached #63 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the highest charting song ever for a South American act.

But who are these guys and gals? The name of this San Paulo band, formed in 2003, translates literally from 'tired of being sexy', a quote from R&B diva Beyonce. Not unlike their nomenclature, the band is steeped in pop culture references. Driven by infectious beats, their music is unpretentious and fun. A killer live act, their innocent, juvenile approach translates well onstage. They also sing in both English and Portuguese. Bonus.

Fortunately, CSS isn't another international fluke (read; Bay City Rollers). They haven't fallen prey to the sophomore slump and their latest release 'Donkey' is filled with the acerbic wit, frivolous lyrics and shake-your-booty groove that has become the band's trademark.

With so many 'important' bands around, it's refreshing to hear some good old mindless pop. Reminds me a lot of the stuff I listened to in the 80's.

I'm just sayin'.

Lets Make Love And Listen To Death From Above
Rat Is Dead
Bay City Rollers- Saturday Night

iPod Touch Ad (Original Nick Haley)

CSS- Lets Make Love And Listen To Death From Above

CSS- Alala

Bay City Rollers- Saturday Night

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I Heard Them First! Deconstructing CMJ

To celebrate AM's safe and victorious return from Dixieland as well as the kickoff of the 2008 CMJ Music Marathon, I've put together a few bands I like, a few bands I've never heard of that I might like, and bands that I don't know and probably would never like. In no particular order, as subjective and random as the festival itself.

The mission of CMJ has always been 'New Music First', but I think the Marathon has morphed itself into a hipster popularity contest. I found the following diagram and it seems fittingly appropriate.

I'm just sayin'.

Broken Social Scene- Live @ KVRX 2003

Broken Social Scene- Fire Eye'd Boy

Deerhoof- The Perfect Me

Beach House - GILA

The Lovely Feathers- Frantic

Shiny Toy Guns- Le Disko

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ramblin' Man

As we prepare for our road trip down to Barber Motosports Park in ol' Alabamy, Actual Monkey brings you a few of the South's greatest hits. Not a huge fan of southern fried rock, but I do think there were some absolute gems from that period.

Included herein are several vids, one of which gives a good idea of what I'll be up to this weekend. Ding Dang! Enjoy y'all!

Heard It In A Love Song


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Trigger Happy

Purchased sight unseen in 1969, WIllie Nelson's trusty Martin N20, affectionately known as 'Trigger' has never missed a gig, performing with him in over 7000 shows.

As haggard as the Red Headed Stranger himself, Trigger has to be the most famous axe this side of Jimmy Page's double neck Gibson. It's recognizable patina is indistinguishable from Nelson's, both having been acquired from a life (mis) spent on the road.

A disciple of Django Reinhardt, Nelson's arpeggio style is partly responsible for the distinctive hole that has worn through the guitar's Brazilian Rosewood face over the past 40 years. He also identifies his use of a pick on the nylon-stringed classic as another culprit.

The foreseeable future holds little chance of either Nelson or Trigger slowing down. At 75, Willie maintains a vigorous touring schedule, equivalent to around 200 days a year. Still is still moving.

My guess is that one day Trigger will be buried with Willie, if not, his old friend should be put out to pasture. I'm sure they'll find some room for it in the Smithsonian.

I'm just sayin'.

Willie Nelson-Still Is Still Movin

Willie Nelson-Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground

Willie & Family Live 1

Willie & Family Live 2

Witness for yourself the slow, sweet decline of Trigger in the following vids, spanning 40 years of the Lone Star State's favorite son.

An homage to the master, Django Reinhardt

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Drain You

Tearing a page from Yoko Ono's playbook on how to sustain a positive cash flow from your dead rock star husband, Courtney Love quietly negotiated several licensing deals, exploiting the Kurt Cobain 'brand' while simultaneously lining her pockets. After signing away all of Kurt's integrity, creativity and hard work in 2006, much of the resulting merchandise has now found its way to store shelves.

Currently, Cobain is the top earning dead celeb. Estimates put his estate around $50 million, handily out-grossing other dirt nappers like Elvis Presley, John Lennon and Bob Marley.

Not unlike her lipo-suctioned abdomen, Love has sought to drain every penny possible from Kurt's legacy, selling off a 25% stake in his catalog, allowing his music to appear in ads and on network television. Oh, the Guilt.

As for the swag? In addition to the typical fare of t-shirts, key chains, and lunch boxes, additional licensing was granted to companies like Converse. Now Kurt's soul and your sole can be as one. The following is a product description for the Chuck Taylor All Star Kurt Cobain:

"He haunted Seattle's music scene, withdrawing into its grit and grime. He thought some of it made sense, but most of it didn't. So he turned to the only thing he knew for sure: his own music. Soon it became clear; the inspired songwriter with scruffy hair and stormy eyes had taken the underground grunge movement mainstream. Distressed canvas upper with Kurt Cobain signature, available in widths to EEE $59.99."

Enough to make you wanna blow your brains out.

I'm just sayin'.

P.S. Here's a little something she won't be cashing in on:

You Know You're Right

Nirvana-The Complete BBC Sessions 1989-1991

Nirvana 'Drain You'- MTV Live and Loud 12.13.93

Monday, October 13, 2008

Killer Music

After seeing the Killer's killer performance on this season's premier of Saturday Night Live, it solidified two things I've known for years: 1. SNL sucks. 2. Most good new music is just repackaged old music. Not to discount any of these new bands, I really like a lot of the 'new' new wave current making playlists, albeit derivative of the classics. I guess it makes me feel like I'm still 'in touch' with the kids, but more times than not, it has me going back to my 'Living In Oblivion' collection and pining for the Reagan era tunes of my youth. So please join me in a little reminiscing. In with the old new and with the new old new.

First we have L.A's Sparks. Fronted by brothers Ron (Hitler Moustache) and Russell Mael, the group had a string of hits, most of which can be found on soundtracks to John Hughes films. By the time this duo peaked in 82', they had already been making music for 12 years (having launched their career on Todd Rundgren's Bearsville Records. After teaming with ex- Go-Go's guitarist/songwriter Jane Wiedlin on 1983's 'Cool Places', things cooled off for the band, and although they haven't charted since, they do still continue to record.

The second band, Classix Nouveaux was basically a one/two hit wonder band from England. Formed after the break up of the legendary punk outfit, X-Ray Specs, they charted as high as #11 with '"Is It A Dream'. I've included here, my fave, 'Guilty' from 1980.

Finally, we have the darlings of the recent post-punk revival, The Killers. These guys have done a good job maintaining/evolving a sound that started over 30 years ago. Lead singer Brandon Flowers alludes a certain je ne sais quoi, that to me, aligns him with the vulnerable, sensitive lead singer type that was a staple of almost every 80's electronic pop band. Kinda like a skinny Robert Smith without the big hair and all the makeup. Kind of wimpy, but it works.

One other thing. While electronic pop is currently enjoying a renaissance, SNL is not. The show is just awful. If not for the musical guests, it would be unwatchable. However, when the time comes for Lorne to mercifully pull the plug on Studio 8H, there will remain a rich musical legacy of some of the most outstanding performances in popular music history.

I'm just sayin'.

The Sparks 'Mickey Mouse' -SNL 5/15/1982

The Sparks 'I Predict' -SNL 5/15/1982

Classic Nouveaux- Guilty

The Killers 'Spaceman' -Highline Ballroom 7/29/08

Classix Nouveaux-Guilty.mp3

Sparks-Angst In My Pants.mp3


Friday, October 10, 2008

Dhani Boy

The only thing darker than growing up in the shadows of fame and fortune as the progeny of a mega rock star is actually trying to step out of those shadows and make a go of it in the music biz yourself. Just ask Jakob Dylan or Julian and Sean Lennon.

Now although the jury might still be out on Dhani Harrison, it appears he's on his way. A spitting image of his father, his music also bears a striking resemblance.

His story is not all that interesting. After studying to be an aerodynamacist, he abandoned his ambition to assist in the completion of Brainwashed, George Harrison's final release shortly before his death in 2001. And after performing alongside a stage full of rock legends at the Concert for George, Dhani all but disappeared.

Fast forward to 20
06. His new (and so far only) band, thenewno2 release their first EP, aptly titled EP0001. It received mixed reviews, but featured the sublime 'Lord Lord', a follow up of sorts to GH's 'My Sweet Lord'.

This past August, the band released their first full length LP, You Are Here. I like it. I think it sounds like George Harrison with a beatbox. Thankfully, it's free of cringe inducing slop like 'Too Late For Goodbyes'.

Interesting to note that the irony of Dhani's station in life is not lost on him. The band's name is a reference to 60's cult TV series 'The Prisoner'.

Things certainly have changed from his father's days in the music business. I am fascinated to see the various cross-sell and marketing tactics implemented on behalf of new artists these days. Included but not limited to: maintaining the obligatory MySpace/Facebook page, iTunes banners, webcasts, licensing deals for video games and even a recent fashion spread featuring Dhani, all dolled up, looking exactly like his father!. I guess you do what you have to do.

As for Dhani boy. I think he might have a better shot then some of the other Rock Star Kids. But it will always be a challenge to find the direct sunlight. I can only imagine how far that shadow is cast and how difficult it must be to get out from behind it.

I'm just sayin'.

P.S. In case he needs a little help finding the light, check out dear old Dad and Paul Simon from SNL, circa 1976.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Happy 68th Winnie

Not my favorite Beatle ( I fancy myself a George man), but my favorite Lennon song. 'Whatever Gets You Thru The Night' was co-written with Elton John and appeared on 'Walls and Bridges'.

For me, it carries a lot of memories from that period of my childhood in the early 70's. Mom wore out her 45 and I remember hearing it on heavy rotation on WABC 770 AM. (Does anyone else remember Dan Ingram? )

The energy of this song tapped straight into the whole 70's 'me' vibe. A sort of 'do whatever' fallout from the peace and love 60's. Makes total sense that it was written during the 'lost weekend' period of Lennon's life.

Surprisingly, this was Lennon's only solo hit to top the charts while he was alive. (Billboard Hot 100 number one single, November 16, 1974).

Check the rare vid below, a glimpse of John strutting about in a deteriorating, Abe Beame era NYC circa 1974, sans Yoko.

I'm just sayin'.

John Lennon-Whatever Gets You Thru The Night.mp3

Monday, October 6, 2008

God is in the House

More sinister then a Dick Cheney staff meeting yet equally as uplifting as a Joel Osteen sermon, Nick Cave and Co. took the stage at (what is for now, still) the WaMu Theater at MSG on Saturday night, further proof that a Fu Manchu beats a receding hairline every time.

I was surprised at the variation in musicianship from song to song. They charged, noisily through some of their newer material and stumbled, clumsily through their older repertoire. Sticking with mostly fan faves in spite of new material from this year's post-everything offering 'Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!', NC&TBS did an admirable job delivering such classics as 'Tuepelo', 'Papa Won't Leave You Henry', 'Mercy Seat' and 'Deanna'. However, I found it a little ironic, if not trite when Mr. Cave introduced 'Mercy Seat' with the quip "Here's one about a guy and an electric chair." Sounded like a set-up line from Uncle Ted.

At this point in his career, Mr.Cave has adopted the Lou Reed modus operandi of speaking the lyrics more so than singing them. That said, he did croon the softer stuff, namely, 'God is in the House', his paradoxical satire on Christianity. The same Christianity of which Mr.Cave is a true believer and has been the topic of dissertation on this very blog in the past.

From the cheap seats, there was a lack of intimacy that such a performer warrants. I was later mortified to learn (upon viewing countless youtube cell phone video's taken of the current tour) that Nick's on stage persona is not spontaneous and improvisational, yet rather contrived and repetitive. I guess at some point along the continuum all rock stars are the same.

All and all a good show. But honesty, he could have come out onstage and read Paul's letters to the Philippians with the accompaniment of an open C chord and the crowd would have thought it the coolest show ever.

I'm just sayin'.

For the uninitiated: NC&TBS, Wamu Theater, NYC 10.04.08

1. Hold On To Yourself
2. Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
3. Tupelo
4. Weeping Song
5. Red Right Hand
6. Midnight Man
7. Love Letter (Nick on piano)
8. God is in the House (Nick on piano)
9. Moonland
10. Mercy Seat
11. Deanna
12. Hard On For Love
13. We Call Upon The Author
14. Papa Won’t Leave You Henry


15. The Lyre of Orpheus
16. Get Ready For Love
17. Stagger Lee

Extra Credit: In the following performance of 'There She Goes, My Beautiful World' (from Later w/ Jools Holland), the angelic, anthemic, name-dropping, muse inspiring opus that it is, NC espouses "Johnny Thunders was half alive when he wrote 'Chinese Rocks'". This lyric, while poetic, is not factually correct. Any good NY punker will tell you it was none other the Richard Hell and Dee Dee Ramone who penned that heroin classic. Nevertheless, a tremendous, hard-charger of a song.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds- There She Goes, My Beautiful World.mp3