Porno For Pyros: Porno For Pyros

Hated it when it came out.  Hated it every time I’d come back to it hoping for something different.  Hated it when I picked it up again for this re-review.  Now I merely dislike it.  I still don’t quite look forward to listening to it, but I hear a lot more that I like now than I ever did before.

The problem with this album isn’t that there isn’t any good music (there’s actually quite a bit of that), but that there are hardly any songs.  In other words, almost every track on here has at least one thing working for it and at least one thing working against it.  It’s like there are two types of songs: those where they couldn’t quite get it all together to make it work and those where they couldn’t leave well enough alone and not insert something stupid.

Perry Farrell’s lyrics are awful.  Just horrendous.  If you’re putting together a list of all-time worst lyrics on an album, this album has to be on the short list.  It’s funny, though, that I don’t think they’re that much worse than some of his stuff for Jane’s Addiction, but for some reason it’s charming there.  It’s like the JA guitarist does better with Farrell’s lyrics than the PFP guitarist.

Rating:
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– “Sadness,” “Porno For Pyros,” “Meija,” “Cursed Female,” “Cursed Male,” “Bad Shit,” “Packin’ .25,” “Blood Rag”
– “Pets,” “Black Girlfriend,” “Orgasm”
Filed Between: Iggy Pop (Lust For Life) and Portishead (Portishead)
Song Notes: After the jump Continue reading

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BR5-49: Big Backyard Beat Show

There are some good songs here, but it’s not a very satisfying album due to two related problems.  First, there’s just a bunch of marginal and bad songs.  Second, the good songs are distributed in such a way that you have to really listen a lot to realize they’re there.  (There’s a third reason, too, where I can’t help but let my opinion of the band’s excellent prior album color this one as a disappointment.)

You get one, at most two, really good songs in a row and then a cruddy song or two creeps in to spoil your mood.  If you get any kind of listening enjoyment momentum built up, those bummer tunes are a gut punch, making the entire thing feel like a bit of  a slog.  You’re either listening to a song you don’t like or waiting for the other shoe to drop when you’re listening to a good one. I guess an optimist would either be enjoying the current song or looking forward to the good one coming up, but that’s an optimist.

I don’t think you’re missing anything by not having this except the mixes and keeps.  That’s half of the songs.  They’re good enough for me to pump it up to 3.5 clowns instead of three, but barely.

Rating:
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Mix:
“There Goes My Love,” “Hurtin’ Song,” “18 Wheels And A Crowbar,” “Seven Nights To Rock”
Keep: “Goodbye Maria,” “Change The Way I Look,” “Georgia On A Fast Train”
Like: “Wild One,” “Out Of Habit,” “Storybook Endings (If You Stop Believin’),” “Pain, Pain Go Away,” “You Flew The Coop”
Ditch: “You Are Never Nice To Me,” “My Name Is Mudd”
Filed Between: BR5-49 and BR5-49’s Coast To Coast Live Continue reading

The Beatles: With The Beatles

One of the things that makes The Beatles The Beatles is that nearly all of their songs sound classic immediately.  My notes have “I Wanna Be Your Man,” the 11th track, as the first original Beatles song on here I was familiar with before hearing the album, and even then I wasn’t sure if I only knew about it because of Rock Band Beatles, leaving “Money (That’s What I Want)” as the only Beatles-written song on here I was sure I’d heard before I got this disc.  But now I listen to it and I feel like I’ve spent a lifetime with these songs.  I wonder if a psychologist could design an experiment that could tease out how much of that is because of some kind of Beatles-esque song-writing trait that hits the human brain in a certain way and how much of it is due to the fact that we’ve been trained into thinking that what sounds Beatles-esque is classic and so we plug it into that slot automatically.

Paul McCartney is the best Beatle and, despite this being my go-to ice-breaker question lately, it’s not up for debate.  Goofy egocentric quirks aside, he had the best voice and was the best songwriter.  However, this album is a great arrow in the (still wrong) John quiver.  John’s written the best songs on here and his screaming vocals are at the height of their powers.  None of this can make up for the Achilles’ Heel that was “Imagine,” but at this point in his career, McCartney was still catching up to Lennon in terms of songwriting and he hadn’t grown into his voice yet, either.

The only even semi-acceptable (but still wrong) answer to favorite Beatle that isn’t Paul is Ringo, and this album is also a great illustration of one of his underappreciated facets.  His drumming is perfect.  He’s got skeelz, but he’s never overly technical or flashy with them.  They always fit the song perfectly: there if you want to appreciate them but otherwise just doing the work of the song that you don’t notice and showcasing the melodies.

And on this album it really is melodies.  With McCartney still growing into his voice, the vocal harmonies are not there yet.  They even make an early salvo in their competition with The Beach Boys on “Devil In Her Heart” and fail miserably, though that’s a song that I don’t think can ever work.

This is a difficult album to compare to Please Please Me because they’re quite different.  Released in the same year, the band kind of ran out of original material and this ends up being a bit of a cover album.  That’s not a criticism, it just means it’s more of a performance than composition critique.  And from the performance standpoint, this does stand above the prior album.  The band is having more fun, is tighter, and the sound is much better.  Nothing here has stood the test of time as well as “I Saw Her Standing There,” but the band starts to shed a little bit (just a little bit) of that teeny bopper innocence and get a little wild, covering the loin-grinding Smokey Robinson and foreshadowing Gordon Gecko with “Money (That’s What I Want).”

Rating:
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– “Please Mister Postman,” “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me”
– “It Won’t Be Long,” “All I’ve Got To Do,” “All My Loving,” “Don’t Bother Me,” “Little Child,” “Till There Was You,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Hold Me Tight,” “I Wanna Be Your Man,” “Money (That’s What I Want)”
– “Devil In Her Heart,” “Not A Second Time”
Filed Between: The Beatles’ Please Please Me and Help!
Song Notes: Below the fold… Continue reading

Brad: Best Friends?

The story of my relationship with Brad’s fourth album will be one of disappointment.  Just off of finally figuring out what makes Welcome To Discovery Park so awesome, my initial listens to Best Friends? had me elevating them to new favorite band status.  After several more listens, though, it’s a good but not great album from which I wouldn’t need to keep more than a handful of songs.

There are two reasons for the drop in disappointment and both relate to the nature of first listens.  First, the album’s best songs are all up front.  The first four tracks are easily the best four, and it’s not until the sixth track you get anything even close to a clunker.  So in my early listens I was more affected by the stuff I was hitting first and assuming the rest would grow on me as much as the early stuff impressed me.  The second reason I’m less hot on this now is that the songs, even those first four, aren’t as good as I thought.  Except that’s not quite right….  You know how you like a really good song more and more as you become more familiar with it?  Well these songs were so immediately accessible and beautiful that I interpolated future appreciation and built that into my initial assessment.  But since Brad kind of leaves their songs half-written, a trait I touched on in my reviews of Shame and Welcome To Discovery Park, often there’s not much more to discover.  “Rush Hour” is the exception here.  It’s an amazingly cathartic, gorgeous work that doesn’t get old.

According to Wikipedia, the disc was recorded in 2003 but wasn’t released until 2010.  That long gap is noted without comment, which is almost as odd as the gap itself.  I’ve got nothing here, but I can’t help but wonder if the inspired-but-unfinished feel of the tracks is somehow related to the hiatus.

It’s still quite a good album.  If this was the first album I’d heard from these guys, I’d probably be much more jazzed about it.  But if I’m going to listen to Brad, I’m not going to reach for this unless it’s “Rush Hour.”

Rating:
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– “Rush Hour”
– “Price Of Love,” “Without Regret,” “Believe In Yourself,” “Every Whisper,” “One Love Remaining,” “Low,” “Oh My Goodness,” “Luxury Car,” “Bless Me Father,” “Runnin’ For Cover”
– “Holiday”
Song notes: Below the fold Continue reading