Mission Immersion 15.2 – Wish You Were Here by Badfinger

February 10, 2012

Warner Bros 1974

Joey Molland is to Badfinger what Mike Love is to the Beach Boys – he’s the band member who, in retrospect, stifled creativity in his misguided attempts to take the reigns as leader. I should probably note that if I come off as anti-Molland sometimes, it probably has to do with my one experience meeting the man. When Joey Molland’s Badfinger (yes, it’s a thing) came to play City Park in my hometown of Manhattan, KS, I brought my vinyl copy of Wish You Were Here along for him to sign. Even though I had just read Without You: The Tragic Story of Badfinger and was aware of all his misdeeds within the band, he was one of only two surviving members at the time (he’s the only one now), so I had to take advantage. However, when I gave him my record and told him to make it out to Cameron, I was livid when I later realized he had made it out to “Kenny”. Though it irked me for a while, over time I have come to appreciate it as living proof of Molland’s legendary arrogance. It was the perfect Joey Molland experience, one I am reminded of every time I bust out my copy of this record. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mission Immersion 15.1 – Ass by Badfinger

February 7, 2012

Apple 1973

The whole point of rock and roll may be to have fun, but this pretense often overshadows the very real dangers of the music business. The majority of people who “make it” in the rock world are very young and that’s always been the norm, but there are several reasons for this. The obvious one, and the one most people think about, is the fact that the young and fresh-faced are generally the people others will pay the most money to see. Youth is an attractive force – when we are in our youth, we want to be around more of it; when we are old, we struggle to reclaim it. But there is a darker side to the allure of youth in rock. Without a good amount of dumb, young souls to mislead and misuse, many in the music business would have very limited resources. Badfinger (one of the best, most fucked-over bands in history) were exploited and flat out robbed from day one, and the main thing that kept them from doing anything about it was the same sort of blind trust that has always led young people into dangerous situations. Read the rest of this entry »

Mission Immersion 14.0 – Desolation Angels by Bad Company

February 6, 2012

Swan Song 1979

I have never been a huge fan of Bad Company, and I wasn’t really looking forward to listening to this record. As a result, I didn’t enjoy it very much. Funny how that works, isn’t it? I’m beginning to wonder why I even bothered to take it for free in the first place.

Apparently, Bad Company was a “supergroup”. (I want to make that joke – I really, really do – but we all know it.) They were made up of members of the bands Free (they had the hit “All Right Now” that’s always confused with “Free Ride”) and Mott the Hoople. This totally makes sense, since much of Bad Company’s output sounds like some second-rate, watered-down amalgam of those two bands. Read the rest of this entry »

Mission Immersion 13.0 – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Make it Easy on Yourself by Burt Bacharach

February 5, 2012

A&M Records 1969

“THE PRESENT DAY COMPOSER REFUSES TO DIE!”Edgard Varese, 1921

I’m not going to pretend like I know who Edgard Varese is, but this quote, which was so carefully placed in the liner notes of countless Frank Zappa records, came to mind as I indulged in my first full-blown Burt Bacharach session. “Composer” is the only way to describe the man – he has a gift for being able to grasp those little snippets of melodic candidness that periodically float across the mind, and he always knows exactly what to do with them. This and his seemingly effortless knack for penning iconic melodies made Bacharach the go-to guy for soundtrack music back in the 60’s and 70’s, and almost anything in that era of the genre is either written by him or trying to emulate him. Read the rest of this entry »

Mission Immersion 12.0 – Rave On by Artful Dodger

February 3, 2012

Ariola America Records 1980

Artful Dodger’s story is like that of so many other power pop bands – they made really good music, sometimes of the classic caliber, but their overall indistinctness kept them from ever catching the attention of the public eye. Read the rest of this entry »

Mission Immersion 11.0 – 666 by Aphrodite’s Child

January 30, 2012

Vertigo 1972

I’m not quite sure how one ends up really liking progressive rock, but I know that when I first heard it, I wasn’t much of a fan. For instance, when I first tried listening to Rush, every bone in my body and every instinct I had told me to hate it. But, for some reason, I could never get enough of songs like “Freewill”, “The Spirit of Radio”, and “The Camera Eye”, and that list has grown substantially over time. Rush is an odd case, too, because it seems for every person who says they like Rush, about 15 say they hate them – which can’t really be true, since Rush is one of the biggest selling rock bands of all time. SOMEONE bought those records, and at this point in my life, I’m happy to say that I am one of those people.

Rush is a special case, though – they are the everyman’s prog rock band. Sure, they have some weird, geeky shit, but their best stuff also incorporates bits of pop and other more accessible types of music, which is one reason why they have been able to maintain such popularity over the years. The term “progressive rock” generally refers to the inaccessibly weird – stuff like Van Der Graaf Generator, Popol Vuh, Premiata Forneria Marconi, Can, and even the first few Yes records are good examples. Especially in the cases of Van Der Graaf Generator and Yes, this is abrasive and bloated music, usually most appreciated by scholars of music theory or just plain music nerds. There is no formula to these songs, only the state of mind that whoever wrote them was in at the time, and stream-of-consciousness composition takes precedence over any sort of pop rules.

Not to say they created the genre, but with 666, a Greek band called Aphrodite’s Child set a new standard as to how far the prog rock ideal could actually be taken. Read the rest of this entry »

Mission: Immersion 10.0 – Wheels In Motion by Any Trouble

January 6, 2012

Stiff 1981

I truly love Power Pop with all my heart, thanks to early weanings on Big Star, The Posies, The Beatles and things of that nature. There’s a downside to it, though – more than almost any other genre of music, it can seem very contrived when not done right. This is because generally, the people who make Power Pop are extremely gung ho about it, and are dedicated to keeping it alive. This is a good thing, but dedication is not the same as inspiration, and if you’re too dedicated and not inspired enough, the idea pool gets pretty shallow. Read the rest of this entry »

Mission: Immersion 9.0 – Pacer by The Amps

January 3, 2012

Elektra 1995

I picked up this special Record Store Day release becuase I love Kim Deal. To be a real music geek, it’s almost required – Deal played major roles in the Pixies and the Breeders, two of the most important rock bands of the late-twentieth century. For a music aficionado to say they don’t like her would almost be akin to a math genius saying they don’t like the Pythgorean Theorem. Deal is that important to modern rock music – she brings equal parts fun, brilliance and chaos to her tunes, all wrought with an originality of spirit that is the key to her standout approach. Read the rest of this entry »

Mission: Immersion 8.0 – California by American Music Club

December 29, 2011

Frontier 1988

Thank heavens for Love Garden Sounds and Kief’s Music. Thanks to these amazing record stores, I am able to live in Kansas without having to buy my CDs and vinyls from Hastings (OK, I bought one vinyl from Hastings ONCE, but it was a copy of one of my all-time favorite records – Meat Puppets II – for fifteen bucks, so sue me). Both stores always have all sorts of awesome stuff, like this American Music Club record I acquired at Love Garden. I can’t imagine there are tons of Kansas folks who really dig on AMC, since head songwriter Mark Eitzel is so stubborn about making his songs as slow and depressing as possible. Read the rest of this entry »

Mission: Immersion 7.0 – History by America

December 28, 2011

Warner Bros 1975

I’ve heard tons of America songs over the years, but I never even realized it. That’s always cool to me, when you’re just casually listening to some record and a song pops up that you know. It transforms the whole experience and makes you listen a little closer, and in my case makes me want to look up a bunch of info on Wikipedia and the like. It was a domino effect with History, America’s greatest hits record – I put it on thinking I would only know two of the songs, realized I knew more like five or six, started looking at the album cover more closely and realized it was produced by George Fucking Martin, looked up the Wikiness and realized late SNL great Phil Hartman did the album cover, and BOOM! Now I’m kind of in love with it. Read the rest of this entry »


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