Friday, August 31, 2012

August 31: Daily Guru, "Music News (Aug 28 - Sept 1): Foo Futures, King's Undies, A New Champ, And More

Today's video covers the future of Foo, dirty undies, a movie, and a new champion. Share and enjoy.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

August 30: Daily Guru, "Music Myths #23: Don't Worry, Mr. Green Jeans, It's A Mistaken Copulation"

In today's video, I explore myths behind a possible father, a rather risque Beatles cover, and a possible death. Share and enjoy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

August 29: Daily Guru, "Guru Soapbox: New Music Is Old Music"

In today's video, I put a few of today's music stars into historical perspective. Share and enjoy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

August 28: Daily Guru, "Music School: Analog vs Digital Recordings"

In today's video, I explain the differences between analong and digital recordings. Share and enjoy.

Monday, August 27, 2012





August 27: Daily Guru, "Something Old, Something New #88"

In today's video, I review a vital part of music history, and a very unique new record. Share and enjoy.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

August 26: Daily Guru, "The Playlist #18: Tendencies, Tull, And Momentary Flags"

In today's video, I suggest some vital songs and albums you MUST check out, as well as a new single that is well worth some plays. Share and enjoy.

August 26: Screamin' Jay Hawkins, "I Put A Spell On You"

Artist: Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Song: "I Put A Spell On You"
Year: 1956

All across the history of recorded music, there are a handful of performers and songs that are so amazingly unique that they defy description in every sense of the word.  These performances are so devastatingly original that not only do they open completely new avenues of musical exploration, but they quickly but all other musicians into perspective.  Furthermore, many of these same performances help to understand how society was at the time of recording, as what was considered "dangerous" or "controversial" in one era may be rather bland or "normal" in another time period.  Yet one cannot deny the overall importance of such recordings and performers, and this is much the reason that Screamin' Jay Hawkins remains such an absolutely unique icon to this day.  Though he was certainly an integral part of the early years of rock and roll, he is rarely given all the accolades he deserves, and one can see countless later artists that borrowed heavily from the moods of his songs, as well as his legendary stage presence and antics.  Over the course of his career, Hawkins recorded many seminal songs that have been covered across the genres since his time, and yet there may be no single more important to his career, as well as the development of rock music than Screamin' Jay Hawkins' classic 1956 song, "I Put A Spell On You."

From the moment that "I Put A Spell On You" begins, it is instantly unique, as the swing and mood are unlike anything else that had been recorded to that point.  The bounce that is instantly set into place by the bass and horns has as eerie and dark a feeling as one can find, and it is almost as if the instrumentation is sneaking around the track.  It is the menacing, unnerving tone that the song presents which has made it such a classic all these years later, and one can find this progression being used as the core sample to a number of hip-hop songs.  As these sounds interact with the quickly bobbing piano, the overall feel of the song becomes even more unstable, and there is no question that "I Put A Spell On You" fits perfectly in any area of popular culture where one wants to create a mood of mystery, or perhaps a steamy cajun evening.  It is the latter of these ideas that lends even more to the overall feeling of the song, as the title becomes quite fitting when the music begins to suggest images of "witch doctors" and other similar elements.  The impact of the music is also a result of the fact that it never really changes in terms of tempo, allowing the mood and tension to build and build, finding its only release through the vocals Screamin' Jay Hawkins himself.

Yet the reality remains that while the almost sinister tones of the instrumentation is vital to the overall impact of the song, it is the work of the writer, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, that truly vaults "I Put A Spell On You" to such heights.  The instant that he begins to sing, it is clear that there has never been anyone who can sing in this manner; as from his pitch to the level of emotion, Hawkins was lightyears away from any of his contemporaries.  There are moments on "I Put A Spell On You" where Hawkins sounds almost deranged or wild, and legend has it that he could barely believe it was his performance after hearing the song the day after the initial takes.  Yet it is this every element of extreme emotion and spirit that define Hawkins, and "I Put A Spell On You" marks the first time that his stage persona was accurately captured within a studio setting.  The way that he shrieks and screams, along with his mischievous vocals are everything that makes for a great song, and one can directly connect these elements to more modern performers like Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, and countless others.  But at the same time, the sound of Screamin' Jay Hawkins stands as completely unique, and it is the way that his amazing voice furthers the darkness of the song that serves as the ideal touch to "I Put A Spell On You."

Strangely enough, most are unaware that the well-known version of "I Put A Spell On You" is actually the second that Screamin' Jay Hawkins did of this song.  Almost seven years previous, Hawkins recorded the same track for a different label, and yet this original take was more a ballad-style song, losing the overall impact and intent behind the 1956 version.  But the fact remains that the latter version stands as perhaps the most obvious sign that at its core, music is a very primal act of creation, and there is a stunning purity found throughout "I Put A Spell On You."  Yet at the same time, it is almost unfathomable to see the range in artists that have covered the song over the years, with everyone from The Animals to Queen Latifah to Joe Cocker to The Birthday Party all putting their own spin on Hawkins' masterpiece.  This in itself is proof enough of what a vital recording Hawkins had made, as the feel of the song would pave the way for both the "horror rock" genre as well as giving a rebirth to the rock sounds from the deep South.  But at the end of the day, none of the covers even come close to the overall mood of the original; and there is simply no other song in history quite like Screamin' Jay Hawkins 1956 classic, "I Put A Spell On You."

Saturday, August 25, 2012

August 25: Daily Guru, "Saturday Smorgasbord: Three Wise Men, Part I"

In today's video, Ethan Fixell and Mike Newman join me for a free-form, in depth music conversation. Share and enjoy.

August 25: Bud Powell, The Amazing Bud Powell, Volume 1"

Artist: Bud Powell
Album: The Amazing Bud Powell
Year: 1951
Label: Blue Note

Perhaps moreso than any other genre, the world of jazz has more "giants" in its history, and this is largely due to the fact that over the course of just a few years, the genre splintered into so many sub-genres.  Throughout the 1940's and 1950's, it seemed that every few months, a new take on the jazz style was coming to the forefront, and it is due to this that it is quite difficult to give proper credit to all of those that caused this musical explosion.  However, there are a handful of performers that can be seen as absolutely essential to the overall development of music, and they represent a wide range of performance styles and instruments of choice.  In the top ranks of such a group is the great Bud Powell, and one can easily argue that he served as the main factor in the shifting of physical approach to the piano more than any other artist.  It was Powell's playing that served as the blueprint for nearly every "post-swing" piano player, and it was largely due to the fact that he ignored the traditional "purpose" of each hand on the piano and developed a completely new style in the process.  There is a freedom and tension within the playing of Powell that cannot be found elsewhere, and yet due to truly tragic circumstances, his period of expressing genius lasted a very short period of time.  However, before this set in, Bud Powell recorded some of the true "standards" of jazz, and many of his finest can be found on his 1951 release, The Amazing Bud Powell.

Every moment of The Amazing Bud Powell can be seen as outright integral in the overall development of jazz as a genre, as one can easily site the playing of Powell as the key turning point in the way that pianists approached the instrument.  Bud Powell changed up the "function" of the left hand within his playing, and this method makes his sound instantly recognizable.  This can be heard on every song found on The Amazing Bud Powell, and yet it is perhaps most apparent on any of the variations on his classic "Parisian Thoroughfare" that can be found on the re-releases of this record.  Throughout these versions, the rhythm section stays well behind Powell, and yet bassist Curly Russell is clearly in top form, doing his best to keep up with Powell's fierce pace and almost wild progression changes.  There is a great amount of soul and swing within Russell's playing on every track, and it is made even more clear by the drumming from fellow jazz legend, Max Roach.  This is without question one of Roach's finest recordings, as he seems to fly across the album, yet is able to do so without overshadowing either of his bandmates.  The speed and energy that can be felt throughout the entire run of The Amazing Bud Powell remains unmatched since, and one can only imagine what could have been had the session been completely.

However, while both Russell and Roach give some of the finest performances of their careers, it is Bud Powell who remains the focus of attention, and The Amazing Bud Powell is without question one of the two or three finest piano recordings in all of music history.  Even if one is not well versed in jazz theory or the technicalities of jazz piano, it only takes moments to realize and understand that there is "something" different going on within Powell's playing.  Not only in the sheer speed with which he navigates the composition, but there is an almost reckless freedom that one can feel, as after playing the main riff to the songs, it is quite clear that Powell simply lets the emotion of the music lead his hands.  While he does not sacrifice any quality, there had simply been no other performer who worked the piano with such an almost playful manner, and even within his own catalog, the level of sheer joy one can feel on every moment of The Amazing Bud Powell remains unrivaled.  It is this speed and mood which make the songs so superb, and from the warm images to the fact that the trio successfully imply a "stop and go" feeling, without ever actually making such literal rhythmic movements, there is simply no other recording of this nature.  The sense of freedom and joy that can be heard throughout Bud Powell's The Amazing Bud Powell may seem "run of the mill" by today's standards, but one must look at the overall history of jazz to understand that it was his playing that caused this to become the norm.

Yet one can dig even deeper into the stylistic realities of Bud Powell's musical approach, and many rightfully make the case that due to the way in which he often worked single notes into long progressions, Powell was a close musical relative of Charlie Parker.  One can even go as far as saying that Powell was the first to properly interpret Parker's style on another instrument, and yet his style remains completely distinctive.  Unlike a majority of his peers and predecessors, one can detect which hand is working the piano at a given time, and it is in this fact that one can hear how rarely Powell uses his left hand for the traditional practice of bringing the chords of a given piece.  This almost stripped-down approach to the piano serves as one of the clear turning points in jazz music, as nearly every performer that followed took at least some aspect of Powell's performance style and integrated it into their own.  To this end, though the best known version of "Parisian Thoroughfare" is cut short, there is so much energy and power flowing between the trio of performers that one cannot help but get caught up in the playing, and it is one of the few recordings that can truly transport a listener back to the studio space.  For so many reasons, one cannot understate the overall importance of Bud Powell, and one need look no further than his tremendous 1951 recording, The Amazing Bud Powell, to completely understand just why he remains such an icon of jazz music.

Friday, August 24, 2012

August 24: Daily Guru, "Music News (Aug 20 -27): LL Knocks One Out, The Doors Go Metal, Dee Snid..."

LL knocks one out, The Doors go metal, and other oddities all in today's music news wrap up. Share and enjoy.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

August 23: Daily Guru, "Music Myths #22"

To celebrate my first year on YouTube, in today's video I look into some of my all time favorite music myths. Share and enjoy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

August 22: Daily Guru, "Gabbing With The Guru: Uptowne Buddha"

In today's video, I sit down with the guys from Uptowne Buddha, and later they play a song. Share and enjoy.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

August 21: Daily Guru, "Music School: Ziggy Stardust"

In today's video, I look deep into the groundbreaking, culture shifting icon that was Ziggy Stardust. Share and enjoy.

Monday, August 20, 2012

August 20: Daily Guru, "Something Old, Something New #87"

In today's reviews, I check out a classic album that defines genres, as well as the new Darkness record. Share and enjoy.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

August 19: Daily Guru, "The Playlist #17: Drew"

Today on The Playlist, my buddy Drew stops by to talk about some amazing tunes. Share and enjoy.

August 19: The Chordettes, "Mr. Sandman"

There are certainly pieces of music that as long as time goes on, they will persist due to the purity of sound and outright pivotal role they have played within the progression of all forms of music.  Strangely enough, while one might assume that any such song is easy to remember and constantly being referenced, there are a number of songs worthy of these accolades that have somehow managed to take a bit of a secondary role to other hits.  This is more persistent as one digs back further into music history, and yet it is impossible to deny the importance of the wide array of shifts that occurred in nearly every genre of music throughout the 1950's.  As the sounds of jazz branched off in countless directions and the early rumblings of rock and roll began to take hold, there was also a resurgence of great vocalists, and this was perhaps the only period in history where the power of a singers voice was commercially able to carry a song without any sort of backing.  That is to say, in the heyday of the "do wop" and a capella movements, there were a number of brilliant performers that found somewhat unexpected success in this instrument-less arrangement.  Among the finest of these groups were The Chordettes, and while their name may not be instantly recognizable, there has never been a version of the classic song "Mr. Sandman" that comes even close to their 1954 rendition.

While some may argue that this version of "Mr. Sandman" is not "completely" a capella, the fact of the matter is that the scarce instrumentation could easily have been removed without any problem, as it is the vocals that drive this track.  In fact, some have made the argument that on this recording, the instruments, particularly the soft horns actually get in the way more than they add to the mix.  Setting that aside, while some may claim that there is also percussion on the song, it is certainly not standard in any way, as though they sound like a soft snare and woodblock, it is in fact Cadence Records founder Archie Bleyer slapping his knees in rhythm alongside the snare.  It is also Bleyer who provides the response of "yes?" in the songs' third verse, and his contributions further the songs' overall sense of musical purity.  The only "real" instrument that makes itself somewhat persistent on the track is the piano from Moe Wechsler and a subtle string arrangement.  These instruments do well to stay far away from the vocalists within the overall mix, but there is one element other than the singing that cannot be overlooked.  While every song in history attempts to create some sense of individuality to perfectly capture the mood, few songs have succeeded in the manner that the eight-note vibraphone line does on "Mr. Sandman," and it has become as iconic as the song itself.

However, due to the nature of the song, as well as the direction of the arrangement, it goes without saying that it is the vocals from The Chordettes that truly vault "Mr. Sandman" to such heights.  The way that the voices of Jinny Osborn, Nancy Overton, Lynn Evans and Carol Buschmann compliment and contrast one another is the epitome of sonic beauty, and one can only listen in awe of the phenomenal vocal control they display all across "Mr. Sandman."  The harmonies found across every line they sing is something beyond the term "gorgeous," and you can hear the influence of this vocal arrangement across pop music to this day.  The ease with which the quartet slides between the notes is second to none, and there is also a certain sense of fun that one can detect within their singing.  Yet along with their blissful vocal performance, it is the way that The Chordettes manage to capture the soft, almost sleepy undertones of the lyrics, and it is the subtle, almost grinning thoughts of exactly "what" they were hoping "Mr. Sandman" would deliver that turns this track into such a timeless classic.  The combination of the purity of their singing, along with the outright strength and skill that all four vocalists show remains unparalleled to this day, and one can argue that modern singers could learn quite a bit from their work.

It almost goes without saying that over the decades, "Mr. Sandman" has become one of the most well-known and heavily covered songs in history.  Everyone from The Supremes and The Andrews Sisters to Emmylou Harris and Marvin Gaye have recorded versions of the song, yet none come close to the sheer perfection of The Chordettes recording.  But the fact of the matter is that this take actually set the standard for a number of different elements of music, from the soft, almost seductive sound of the "female vocal group" to the reminder that even with changes in mainstream appeal and technology, nothing can replace sheer talent.  It is largely due to the latter of these facts that the original recording by The Chordettes continues to be used all across popular culture more than half a century after it was first released, as the mood and sound is simply unbeatable, and though the group would go through lineup changes over the years, it is this combination of voices that remains without question their finest.  While other groups would record more commercially successful songs under the title of "do wop" and a capella, there remains an intangible appeal and allure behind The Chordettes' absolutely flawless 1954 recording of "Mr. Sandman."

Saturday, August 18, 2012

August 18: Daily Guru, "Saturday Smorgasbord: If...Then..."

In today's video, I look at some current acts and suggest some other bands you might like. Share and enjoy.

August 18: Massive Attack, "Blue Lines"

Artist: Massive Attack
Album: Blue Lines
Year: 1991
Label: Virgin

Though many try and lump all of the variations on the core style together as a single genre, much like any other type of music, once one explores electronic music, the differences become quite obvious.  While they all have a common link, much like the patterns or instrumentation of jazz and rock music, it is the way in which different artists re-interpret this core sound that makes the genre so intriguing.  Furthermore, each of the sub-genres has its own origins, and while some of the styles can be attributed to a number of artists, one can give nearly all of the credit for the development of the "trip-hop" genre to one of the longest-running acts in the history of electronic music: Massive Attack.  In modern times, their name is almost synonymous with electronic music in general, as the inroads and innovations they have brought over the past three decades remain unrivaled, and their 1991 album, Blue Lines, remains one of the most perfect and absolutely mind-blowing records ever recorded.  Sounding nothing like anything else being recorded at the time, the album completed shifted the mindset on what was possible within the electronic genre, and even more than twenty years after its release, it remains the blueprint for the style, and there is simply nothing in history that can compare to Massive Attack's 1991 debut.

When compared to the more modern interpretations of the trip-hop style, Blue Lines may appear to be more mellow at times, as it is not overflowing with speedy drum loops or overly distracting sound effects.  It is in this more refined approach where one can find the true beauty that "is" the style at its finest, and the trio of Robert "3D" Naja, Grant "Daddy G" Marshall, and Andy "Mushroom" Vowles do not waste a second anywhere within the albums ' arrangements.  Each element of found throughout the entire record is perfectly crafted; and each piece plays an essential role within that particular song, and even with the varied sounds, it never even comes close to sounding chaotic or over-done.  It is this balance that is achieved all across Blue Lines that sets the record so far apart from its peers, as there is a clear musicality, as opposed to too much reliance on artificial elements.  The way in which these sounds are able to so seamlessly blend with the delicate string arrangements and other more traditional instrumentation is the combination that paved the way for countless other artists, as well as serving as the link to the down-tempo and ambient styles, and with this in mind, one can easily make the case that Blue Lines is one of, if not the most important album  in the entire history of the electronic genre.  There is a sophistication and complexity within the arrangements on Blue Lines and yet it is so direct that one cannot help but be completely captivated by the sound, and it is this fact that enables it to endure just as strong after so many years since its initial release.

However, the other element that sets Blue Lines far apart from other electronic recordings is the absolutely beautiful vocal on many of the tracks, most often provided by Shara Nelson, Horace Andy, and none other than Tricky.  While other electronic groups had dabbled in this approach, it was particularly Nelson's performance that turned the delicate, almost ethereal vocal sound into the standard for the genre, and in many ways, her showing here has yet to be matched.  The amount of emotion that she is able to convey within her vocals, as well as the more "cool" feeling of Tricky, helps to bring out the similar elements within the music over which they sing, and it cements the idea that there is absolutely a great deal of "music" within "electronic music."  There is also a swinging, almost carefree feeling within her singing, and it is this fact that enabled "Unfinished Sympathy" to dominate the dance club scene, and the song remains a staple to this day.  The fact that Nelson and the other vocalists deliver such moving performances is also due to the rather straightforward, universal theme within the lyrics across the record, as the group is able to approach a wide range of ideas in a wonderfully unique way.  Regardless of who is bringing the vocals to these tracks, it is this extension of the music that vaults the overall album far beyond anything else the genre has ever produced.

Truth be told, as the years have passed, Blue Lines has seemed to move beyond the electronic genre, as it is quite regularly cited as one of the finest and most important albums ever recorded.  Across the globe, it has been given such accolades, and when one looks at the other records with which it is grouped, it provides a basis for the argument that it is the most significant and influential album in the history of electronic music.  There are virtually no other recordings from the long history of the genre that have ever even been considered for such praise, and it is likely due to the perfect balance of sounds that one finds in every element of Blue Lines that makes it impossible to write it off as "just another" electronic record.  Furthermore, the fact that even so many years after its release, the sound and production remains fresh is a testament to how forward-thinking and truly pioneering a style there was within Massive Attack, and it is much the reason they continue to be a dominant force within the genre.  From the smooth string arrangement to the multiple rhythms, the groove and moods set across the record shows the true beauty which can only be achieved through electronic music, and it proves that one can find just as much emotion and bliss within this style as any other type of music.  As they progressed, the group released a number of other fantastic songs, yet none continue to have the wide-reaching impact as one can experience within Massive Attack's phenomenal 1991 album, Blue Lines.

Friday, August 17, 2012

August 17: Daily Guru, "Music News (August 12 - 19): Pussy Riot Verdict, Bus Crashes, And Missing Persons"

In today's news, I cover the Pussy Riot verdict, a bus crash, a missing person, and other stories. Share and enjoy.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

August 16: Daily Guru, "Music Myths #21"

In today's video, I explore myths about a casket, a hyperbolic chamber, and a rather annoying anthem. Share and enjoy.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August 15: Daily Guru, "Get Over Yourself: Fanboys & Fangirls"

In today's video, I extend some words to all the fanboys and fangirls across the globe. Share and enjoy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

August 14: Daily Guru, "Music School: August 14"

In today's video, I talk about one of the most oddly busy dates in music. Share and enjoy.

August 14: Daily Guru, "Gurucast #137"

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN (will open in new tab)

(Left Click (PC) or Command-Click (Mac) to save it to your's about 75MB)

One hour of amazing music and commentary from "The Guru" himself. Tracklist will be added to THIS post on Thursday.

Monday, August 13, 2012

August 13: Daily Guru, "Something Old, Something New #86"

In today's video, I check out a classic demo release and an amazing new record. Share and enjoy.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

August 12: Daily Guru, "The Playlist #16"

In today's video, I suggest some tunes you MUST check out this week. Share and enjoy.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

August 11: "Saturday Smorgasbord: Soundtracks"

In today's video, I check out some of my favorite movie soundtracks. Share and enjoy.

August 11: The Byrds: "Sweetheart Of The Rodeo

    Across the history of recorded music, one can find a number of moments where the entirety of the world of music is forced to take a step back and reexamine exactly “what” is possible within their particular style or genre.  Whether it was the rise of electronic music and its impact on the world of pop music or the countless shifts within the world of jazz, no style can stay stagnant for long, and often times, it is when a group returns to the true roots of a playing approach where the most important music can be created.  It is with this in mind that one must look a bit deeper into the band that remain one of the most overlooked of their generation: The Byrds.  While most are familiar with their handful of classic singles, it is within their early studio albums where they forced a massive shift in the world of rock music, as they seemed capable of playing brilliantly across nearly every style imaginable.  It is perhaps due to the fact that the band went through so many lineup changes that this diversity in approach can be found, and yet there is never a moment in their catalog where it seems as if they are “forced” into a particular sound or approach.  However, while the entire catalog of The Byrds is exceptional, there is no other record that sounds quite like or holds the same overall importance as their flawless, country and western rooted 1968 release, Sweetheart Of The Rodeo.

    Though other groups had certainly delved into the space where country and western music meet rock and roll before, none had gone so deeply, nor taken an entire album for this approach, and the results one finds all across the record are stunning.  From the opening moments of their cover of Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Going Nowhere,” it is almost impossible to properly place this album into either the “country and western” or “rock and roll” category, as it constantly shifts between the two with absolute musical perfection.  Led by the superb acoustic guitar and banjo of Roger McGuinn, there is instantly an organic, “down home” tone to the songs, and this persists in a fantastic manner throughout the entire album.  It is the way that his sound combines so seamlessly with the guitar and piano of new member Gram Parsons that quickly sets the record apart from their previous release, and one can easily argue that it was Parsons’ musical taste and direction that truly pushed the record and band into this more “country fried” direction.  Along with this pair, bassist Chris Hillman performs flawlessly, and it is his additions of mandolin that pushes some of the tracks to true greatness.  However, one of the biggest shifts in sound for The Byrds is in the drumming of Kevin Kelley, as his tone is far different from that of his processor, and it is quickly clear that he understands the mood and lightness required to properly execute the country style.  It is the way that the four core members move as a single unit that pulls the listener in, and few records have as much pure warmth as one finds here.

    However, while the core of the musical arrangements may be a bit of a contrast from the previous work of The Byrds, the element that makes Sweetheart Of The Rodeo fit perfectly into the bands’ catalog comes in the blissfully beautiful vocals.  While there is certainly a similar level of influence from the country and western styles as one hears in the music, the fact remains that you can hear their influence on a massive number of bands that worked vocal harmonies in the late 1960’s.  There is a completely raw and highly emotional feel running through every vocal on the album, and it is the fact that there is not even a hint of pretension or parody in their singing that sets the record so far apart from others that had perhaps dabbled in the country-rock sound previously.  Much like their musical chemistry, the vocals shared between Roger McGuinn, Chris Hillman, and Gram Parsons are truly fantastic, and whether it is a softer harmony or a swinging lead, few vocal performances in history can compare to the sounds found all across Sweetheart Of The Rodeo.  Yet at the same time, the album is a bit of an oddity due to the fact that it is almost entirely covers in terms of song choice, as the group pulls from artists ranging from Woody Guthrie to Merle Haggard to Dylan, along with a pair of Parson’s originals.  It is the fact that The Byrds are able to make each of these songs their own in every sense of the word that shows their true musical talents, as well as their clear understanding of the proper balance between country and rock music.

    Truth be told, while a number of artists had attempted to blend together rock and roll with its country and western roots, a majority of these songs had been overlain with a sense of parody or comedy, thus compromising the actual musical work on the song in question.  This was perhaps due to the fact that at the time, it was not seen as “cool” to musically experiment in such ways, and many groups were likely concerned about alienating their audiences.  However, The Byrds clearly did not have such concerns, as they jumped in completely to the country and western sound, managing to make it flow and groove like never before.  It is the unique edge that they bring to each of the tracks that makes Sweetheart Of The Rodeo so distinctive, and once you experience this record, you can easily point out the long list of bands that decided to copy this musical formula.  Yet at the same time, one can easily argue that had it not been for Gram Parsons joining the group, the album would not have achieved in the manner that it did, as this sound was one that Parsons had already been known, and while The Byrds were planning to make a more roots-based record, Parsons helped to guide and focus them to this musical perfection.  At the same time, it is the combined sound and musical commitment of all the players involved that ultimately yields such a superb musical product, and there has simply never been another album quite like The Byrds 1968 classic, Sweetheart Of The Rodeo.

Friday, August 10, 2012

August 10: Daily Guru, "Music News (August 5 - August 12): Pretentious Records, Stinky Jeans, An...

In today's news, I cover a pretentious album, some stinky jeans, and a big let down. Share and enjoy.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


My new website is up and running and this will soon be closed. Same info, new site.



Check the link below and get your copy before the limited edition run sells out! 

Self-published. 950 pages of music awesomeness.


August 9: Daily Guru, "Music Myths #20"

In today's video, I look at myths surrounding an airplane, polio, and a few guns…you won't want to miss this one! Share and enjoy.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

August 8: Daily Guru, "Ask The Guru #10"

In today's video, I tackle questions about underrated musicians, possible backing vocalists, and the death of albums. Share and enjoy.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

August 7: Daily Guru, "Music School: The Fillmore"

In today's video, I take a look at one of the most iconic venues in music history: The Fillmore. Share and enjoy.

August 7: Daily Guru, "Gurucast #136"

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN (will open in new tab)

(Left Click (PC) or Command-Click (Mac) to save it to your's about 75MB)

One hour of amazing music and commentary from "The Guru" himself. Tracklist will be added to THIS post on Thursday.

Monday, August 6, 2012

August 6: Daily Guru, "Something Old, Something New #85"

In today's video, I check out an essential modern classic, along with a brand new record you need to own. Share and enjoy.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

August 5: Daily Guru, "The Playlist #15"

In today's video, I suggest some amazing tunes you MUST check out this week. Share and enjoy.

August 5: Prick, "Animal"

Artist: Prick
Song: "Animal"
Album: Prick
Year: 1995

Though it has been discussed in many different ways over the years, there is simply no getting past the fact that the early 1990's remain one of the most unique periods in music history when it comes to the massive range in musical styles and sounds that the "buying public" were willing to accept.  The era saw everything from "gangsta" rap to heavy metal to outright indescribable sounds making their way to the top of the charts, proving that the general public had no problem in a non-homogeneous musical mainstream.  Though there were a number of wonderfully distinctive bands to rise from this era, some of the most fascinating came from the still developing "industrial" scene, as the changes in technology were allowing innovation and exploration into these areas like never before.  At the same time, it was within this somewhat smaller community of musicians where one can find a "team" effort unlike any other genre, and it is largely due to this reality that the concentration of "superb" records from this time period is so high.  Among the many acts to bring a distinctive and unforgettable take on the industrial sound was the group Prick, which was in reality the brain-child of Kevin McMahon, and the 1995 self-titled album put out under the group's name stands as one of the most intriguing of the era.  While the entire album is well worth hearing, there may be no better representation of the group or era than Prick's 1995 single, "Animal."

It is no secret that much of the reason the album has such a fantastic sound and mood is due to the fact that the producer was none other than Trent Reznor, and there may be no other figure in the history of the genre that has been as vital as his work and presence over the years.  Yet at the same time, due to Reznor's work, as well as the style and approach of Kevin McMahon, the songs never seem like a copy or knock off of any other group.  Almost from the instant that "Animal" begins, there is a raw, almost primal feel to the song that is very fitting of such a name.  The tone of the guitar in the opening stages of the song has a mysterious feel that is nothing short of phenomenal, and it is the way that the simple bassline injects an almost looming groove to the song.  It is the bounce of the bass, and the fact that there is a strangely "pop" tone to the track that sets it far apart from most other industrial work, and yet the raw, dark, gritty sound that defines the genre is just as present.  As "Animal" progresses, the overall intensity builds and builds to a rarely achieved level, and it is the moment when all of the tension is released where the true power of Prick is revealed.  After the tension has been broken, the more traditional sounds of the industrial genre are firmly intact, and yet the power and overall tone that one can experience here is unlike anything else under the name, as their blend of live and electronic instrumentation is nothing short of perfect.

At the same time, while the orchestrations all across "Animal" are truly exceptional, the element that vaults the track to greatness is the voice and overall vocal style of Kevin McMahon.  It is the fact that he needs no vocal modulation or manipulation to create an almost evil, truly menacing tone to his voice, and  it provides a balance and completion to the song that once heard, can never be forgotten.  Yet it is also within McMahon's vocal performance where the songs' title becomes most obvious, as there is a raw, almost ferral sound to his voice at times, exemplifying the animalistic tones of the track.  At some points on the song, it sounds as if McMahon has become completely unhinged, giving himself completely to the energy of the song; and it is during these moments where the true magic and genius of the track reside.  All across "Animal," the vocals seem to almost "dance" with the bassline, and it is the interplay between these two elements that yields such a phenomenal final product.  However, one also cannot overlook the lyrics to "Animal," as they provide the ideal finishing touch to the track, and one can read into these words in a number of different ways.  While the most obvious reading of the words is one of carnal and primal desires, once one steps back, a number of deeper and slightly hidden themes can be heard as well, proving that there was far more to this track than one might see at face value.

Strangely enough, most are unaware that McMahon had actually been making music for well over a decade by the time he formed Prick, having spent many years fronting the band Lucky Pierre.  It was due to these previous releases and work as a musician that allowed the debut release from Prick to sound so complete and powerful, though there was also a clear chemistry between him and Reznor.  It is the fact that there McMahon seems to take on an entirely new persona across the album that makes the record so significant, and anyone who follows the industrial genre will undoubtably see a strong connection fron McMahon's approach here to that done nearly five years later by Marilyn Manson on his Mechanical Animals record.  But regardless of what came later, "Animal" offered a strangely more accessible path into the world of industrial music, as the groove and overall sound found on the track manage to strike a perfect balance between the world of heavy metal and industrial music in a manner that has rarely been accomplished.  Furthermore, "Animal" has a longevity that is far beyond that of other similar albums released during the era, as McMahon's distinctive blend of sounds and styles remains just as fresh and powerful today as it was nearly twenty years ago.  Taking all of these realities into account, there has simply never been another track quite like Prick's classic 1995 song, "Animal."

Saturday, August 4, 2012

August 4: Daily Guru, "Saturday Smorgasbord: 3 Bands You MUST Own"

In today's video, I discuss a few bands you may not know, but whose entire catalogs you MUST own. Share and enjoy.

August 4: Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Green River"

Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Album: Green River
Year: 1969
Label: Fantasy

While it was without question one of the most pivotal and creative points in all of music history, the tail-end of the 1960's also saw the rock-based genres of music moving further and further away from the sounds upon which they were founded.  That is to say, when one inspects a majority of the rock music being made during this period, the rhythm and blues and soul which led to its creation are largely missing.  This is not to take anything away from the amazing music created during that era, but it is also a reality that is often overlooked.  However, it is due to these circumstances that one can find a greater appreciation for the handful of bands that remained true to the spirit of rock and roll, though even in these cases, the fact seems secondary, if even recognized at all.  When it comes to bands that carried the torch for the almost roots-based rock and roll in the late 1960's, few did so with as much soul and energy than one finds in the music of Creedence Clearwater Revival, and their long list of hit songs serves as a testament to the impact and influence they had.  Bringing a unique fusion of soul, country, blues, and rock, their music is often referred to as "swamp pop," and the moods that the band conveys makes this term quite fitting.  Though they had already set the standard for their sound into place with their previous release, few records in history can rival Creedence Clearwater Revival's exceptional 1969 album, Green River.

On so many levels, from the moment that Green River begins, it is a far tighter and more focused affair than its predecessor, and instantly grabs the listener with its sound and energy.  It is the swing and mood within John Fogerty's guitar that makes every song on the album so distinctive, and even within this single element, one is quickly transported to a dusty road in the southern United States.  As the rest of the band joins into the musical arrangement, the feeling and mood of the album becomes even more vivid, and no other band in history has been able to convey such a clear sense of "place" than one can experience here.  There is a mesmerizing, almost primitive feel to the percussion of Doug Clifford, and it manages to perfectly match the wide range of styles the band deploys, whilst also staying firmly rooted in the rock style.  Bassist Stu Cook furthers this combination, and the groove he injects into the songs gives Green River as much funk and soul as one can find anywhere.  It is the way in which the musicians manage to come together as a single unit and make the album overflow with life, and sets it aside from other records of the era, as there is a gritty looseness that enables Green River to remain just as fresh and exciting today as it was more than forty years ago.

Adding the ideal final element to the album, John Fogerty's vocals on all throughout the record remain some of the most inspired and unforgettable in all of music history.  Though he almost always borders on what sounds like screaming at times, there is a captivating attitude and growl within his voice, and it is without question one of the easiest voices to recognize.  It is also in the vocals of the band where one can hear the country influences, and it is much the reason that Creedence Clearwater Revival were able to find crossover success in ways that which no other band was capable of achieving.  There is also a unique sense of defiance within Fogerty's vocals, and while many might argue, one can connect this element directly to the punk movement that was beginning to build.  Regardless of the more finite elements of his singing, it is this attitude and unrestrained energy that makes Fogerty's vocals so unforgettable, and yet they are supported by the wonderfully vivid and captivating lyrics which he sings.  Furthermore, the allure of both the band and album were captured on the now-iconic song, "Bad Moon Rising," and it is the way that the vocals and lyrics are able to bring a relaxed tone, along with a sense of mystery that make this record such a unique musical experience.

While the bands' previous release had certainly shown their abilities, it is the fact that on Green River, their sound is so much more compact, that makes it the superior work of art.  Furthermore, the album injected a massive amount of original material into the bands' catalog, as they'd previously released a mostly cover songs.  The fact that one can so easily "feel" the heat coming off of the album is a testament to the combined talents of the musicians, and this moods are completely unlike anything else in recorded history.  The way in which they fuse together deep, almost dark grooves with the contrasting voice of John Fogerty is nothing short of brilliant, and yet there is also a clear connection to the "classic" sounds of rock and roll.  This is largely due to the reverb on Fogerty's guitar, and it would become a tone and approach that countless artists would copy in the years that followed.  Yet it is the flow that one can feel throughout the songs that enables it to become so much greater than the sum of its parts, as it is this element that transports the listener, and even after countless listenings, one cannot help but be swept up in the imagery and mood.  The fact that it retains this element, as well as the purposeful presence of the more roots-based rock sound largely define the core of Creedence Clearwater Revival's musical approach, and they were rarely more true to this sound or in better form that what one can hear on their phenomenal 1969 album, Green River.

Friday, August 3, 2012

August 3: Daily Guru, "Music News (July 28 - August 4): Missing People, A Big Gorge, And Odd Payments"

In today's video, we look into stories about disappearing singers, odd payments, and a man and his gorge. Share and enjoy.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

August 2: Daily Guru, "Music Myths #19"

In today's video, I look into some myths about mislabeled songs, odd band names, and a rather controversial logo. Share and enjoy.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August 1: Daily Guru, "Gabbing With The Guru: Lionize"

In today's video, the fantastic guys from Lionize stop by for a chat, and we rolled tape during a jam-packed live performance. Share and enjoy.