Posts Tagged ‘Nine Inch Nails’

In the first week of May, I made my 500th connection on LinkedIn. What does this mean?

I don’t know. But it must be a milestone because 500 is a cool number. It’s not a prime number, but it’s right next door to one: 499. So when I made my 400th connection I decided to work very seriously on my next hundred. Because these numbers look like career homerun totals, I made a game of it, announcing each stage to my wife:

407: “I’m neck and neck with Duke Snider.”
439: “I’ve got Andre Dawson in my rearview mirror.”
453: “Bye-bye, Yaz!”
493: “Did you know that Crime Dog was tied with Lou Gehrig? What? Who is Crime Dog? Why am I talking to you?”

I stood at 499 for about two weeks. I wondered if I should invite someone special for my 500th. The obvious choice was Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, but I figured he was kinda busy being a co-founder and I didn’t want to wait 200 years for Reid to say yes. I also thought it would be fun to connect with someone who had the same name as a person I admired, but either that person had no presence on LinkedIn or there were 119 of them (as with David Bowie).

Number 500 arrived when I wasn’t looking – an invitation I’d extended weeks before and forgotten about. Lucky 500 is an editor who works with a publisher I once worked for. As with many of my connections, I’ve never met this person, but if he’s one of my guys you can be sure that he rocks.

(Note: At this point I didn’t actually have 500 people in my network, because at least one had died. Her profile is still active. If we’re connected and you’re still breathing, write and say hi. I’d love to hear from you.)

When I hit 500 feedbacks on eBay, they sent me a certificate. Actually, they sent me a link to a certificate that I could print myself. I wasn’t expecting LinkedIn to give me a handjob and a parade, but still I was disappointed when nothing happened. Then I thought, maybe I’m looking at this the wrong way. Maybe I’m the one who should be doing something, and not just my end-zone dance. Maybe I should be printing T-shirts for my posse. (Don’t send me your shirt size. I’m not doing this.)

LinkedIn (the site also spells it “Linkedin”) long ago transformed itself from sparkly toy to networking ninja. If I want to find out who I know at a particular company, I can do it in seconds. Before LinkedIn, this would’ve taken days or weeks, if it could be done at all.

So if nothing much happens when you make your 500th connection, so be it. In fact I’ve moved past that mark now. I believe I’m tied with Eddie Murray (504), but then, who’s counting?

Random Pick of the Day
Various artists, The Crow (1994)
This movie is about a murdered man resurrected by a mystical crow to reign death and destruction upon his enemies. Please don’t make me write a sentence like that again. The heart of the soundtrack is “Burn” by The Cure, closely followed by Nine Inch Nail’s cover of Joy Division’s “Dead Souls,” “Snakedriver” by The Jesus and Mary Chain, and the dreamy “Time Baby III” by a band called Medicine. (The vocal on that one is by a former Bangle.)

As for the other 10 songs, Stone Temple Pilots’ “Big Empty” has had so much radio play that it bounces off my brain. The remaining nine are interchangeable, but appropriately mopey, metal.

Random Pan of the Day
The B-52s, Cosmic Thing (1989)
Why am I panning this record? I love The B-52s. Cosmic Thing was their big comeback. It has “Love Shack,” “Roam,” and one of their best lines, on the eternal topic of shaking your booty: “Don’t let it rest/on the president’s desk!”

But most of Cosmic Thing is easy-listening filler. “Roam” still sounds good, but “Love Shack” is getting tired. When this record came out, the mellifluously named Bart Becker, music editor at my paper, Seattle Weekly, wrote that this was a band that had pretty much lost it. Twenty-five years later, I reluctantly agree. By 1989, The B-52s were not even all that wacky anymore. I can only recommend Cosmic Thing to confirmed idiots such as myself. For anyone else, The B-52s and Wild Planet are all you need.

Bart Becker would’ve been the perfect name for an infielder on the San Francisco Giants.

 

I thought I had finished listening to and saying stupid things about every band with a number in its name that we collectively thought up, but I was wrong, as I so often am. Loyal reader and Southern industrialist corncobb has unearthed two bands that I’d overlooked: 8-Ball and Infinity. Thanks a lot, loyal reader and Southern industrialist corncobb!

Well, this blog wouldn’t exist without my loyal readers. Actually, it wouldn’t exist without WordPress. So in the interest of completing Let Me Count the Ways Week, which is now in its 10th frakking day, I gave these groups a good listening to. And boy was I sorry.

8-Ball and Infinity were both founded in the 1990s, 8-Ball in Japan and Infinity in Norway. 8-Ball is associated with several songs that are used in video games or with video magazines. “(Need for) Speed” uses unnecessary parentheses and shows how closely these boys have listened to Deep Purple, though Deep Purple wouldn’t spend five minutes listening to 8-Ball. “Can’t Carry On” sounds like Candlebox moving from California to Seattle in the ’90s and pretending to be a grunge act. “Masquerade” is something the Foo Fighters would scrub out of their swimming pool.

That brings us to Infinity. The Infinity gang loves Madonna. To her music they add just enough rapping to keep their grandparents on edge. The only song they have that is even halfway listenable is “Sleeping My Day Away,” and that’s because they didn’t write it – it’s a cover of a song by the Danish rock band D-A-D. No, I am not starting a project where I review bands with capital letters for names. I’ve already done ABBA and AC/DC anyway.

The one thing I like about Infinity is that this summer they toured Norway as part of the “We Love the ’90s!” tour. I have no idea what the ’90s was like in the home of the Norse gods, but it probably wasn’t like what I saw in the first Thor movie. I’ve always wanted to visit Scandinavia (Special D just put her head in her hands) and if I ever get to Oslo you can be sure I’ll report back on “We Love the ’90s!” I’d be crazy to miss it. Imagine the band merch!

The summing up
A couple of weeks ago, I gave Special D what I’ve written on my novel so far, all 25,000 words of it. She gave me her usual excellent feedback. Since then I’ve been thinking pretty hard about what she said and where I think my book is going. Listening to 110 or so bands with numbers in their names and then unfairly judging them and dismissing their life’s work in a few biting sentences was a fun project for my off-hours.

Despite the crappy bands this project stuck me with (Kenny Rogers & The First Edition, The Four Seasons, and 101 Strings lead that pack), I ended up listening to a lot of music I liked: U2, Three Dog Night, Gang of Four, The Bobby Fuller Four, The Jackson Five, Nine Inch Nails, UB40, The B-52s, Galaxie 500. For once I’m going to emphasize success rather than failure, and that means I want to single out the bands I didn’t know or didn’t know well and that happily surprised me: 2 Nice Girls, Timbuk 3, Sixpence None the Richer, 16 Horsepower, Matchbox Twenty, and 50 Foot Wave. I was pleased to reacquaint myself with 10cc’s “Neanderthal Man” and that Dean Moriarty song by Aztec Two-Step.

A warning: Don’t ever put a four in your band’s name. The 14 bands in that sad category were offset only by Bobby Fuller, Gang of Four, and The Four Tops.

Thanks to everyone who suggested bands and put this list together. I never would’ve gotten half of them without your help. For the record, here they all are, including the acts I reviewed in the two months before Let Me Count the Ways Week started on August 25:

.38 Special

Kenny Rogers & The First Edition
One Direction
KRS-One

2 Live Crew
2 Nice Girls
2 Unlimited
2Pac
Amon Düül II
Aztec Two-Step
Boyz II Men
RJD2
U2

3 Doors Down
3 Mustaphas 3
311
3OH!3
Fun Boy Three
Loudon Wainwright III
The Three O’Clock
Third Eye Blind
Third World War
Three Dog Night
Timbuk 3

4 Non Blondes
Bobby Fuller Four
Classics IV
Four Bitchin’ Babes
Four Men & a Dog
Gang of Four
The Four Aces
The Four Freshmen
The Four Fellows
The Four Havens
The Four Horsemen
The Four Seasons
The Four Tops
The Four Toppers

Ben Folds Five
The Dave Clark Five
Deadmou5
Five Finger Death Punch
Five for Fighting
Five Man Electrical Band
Maroon 5
MC5
Q5
The 5th Dimension
The Five Satins
The Jackson 5
We Five

Apollonia 6
The 6ths
Six By Seven
Sixpence None the Richer

7 Seconds
7 Seconds of Love
L7

Crazy 8’s
8Ball
8-Ball

Nine Inch Nails

10cc
10 Years
Ten Years After

12 Rounds

16 Horsepower

East 17
Heaven 17

Matchbox Twenty

UB40
Level 42
Black 47

50 Cent
50 Foot Wave
The B-52s

MX-80
M83

The Old 97’s

Apollo 100
Haircut 100
101 Strings
blink-182

Galaxie 500

Area Code 615

1000 Homo DJs

1910 Fruitgum Company

10,000 Maniacs

Do as Infinity
Infinity

One disqualification this evening:

Napoleon XIV
“They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!” was funny when I was 11. The only sounds beyond the vocal, if you can call it a vocal, are from a tambourine, a drum, ambulance sirens, and someone slapping a thigh (presumably his own thigh, but who knows). All of the non-vocal sounds are on a loop. The vocal is speeded up in places to emphasize the narrator’s dementia. The words are not at all clever and in fact reveal the narrator to be a passive-aggressive SOB and a master at inducing guilt. The B side of this surprise hit, which outstrips “Transfusion,” “The Purple People Eater,” and anything involving chipmunks for sheer weirdness and/or plain dumbness, is, of course, “!Aaah-ah, Yawa Em Ekat ot Gnimoc Er’yeht”

There was a record company called Gennett. During the Great Depression, when money was short, they fixed leaks in the roof of their building by nailing their surplus records over the holes. I can’t think of a better use for copies of “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!”

All right then. Let’s go 12!

12 Rounds
Basically two people, Atticus Ross and Claudia Sarne. Has the name Atticus become fashionable again? I like Apollonia better. Their 1996 debut, Jitter Juice, won them an advocate in Trent Reznor, who signed them to his own label. I want my own label and as soon as this blog starts making money I’m going to go out and get me one. Ross has worked with Reznor on various Nine Inch Nails albums and film scores. I can see why they get along so well as they’re both big navel gazers, though Reznor rocks so very hard and Ross so not so much.

16 Horsepower
As soon as I read “alt-country” I threw down my guns and walked away, but the little bastards shot me in the ass. 16 Horsepower is one of the happiest surprises in this project. The first song I heard in their YouTube mix was “Black Soul Choir,” and I was sold in under a minute. By the second song, “Haw,” which evokes the Old West and Pink Floyd, I was chair dancing, using my co-workers’ chairs. Then came “Heel on the Shovel,” and how great a title is that? Pretty good song, too.

David Eugene Edwards is the man behind this music. He looks like a young George Thorogood with worse hair. His voice is nothing special and yet it wails with all the emotion we thought we left behind in the Depression. The man is from Denver, but from Denver in what era?

I haven’t heard all of their music yet, and I’m not crazy about their ballads, but what I can say so far is that if you don’t like Springsteen’s Nebraska, you might if it had a beat. That’s how I’m hearing 16 Horsepower.

East 17
The boy bands keep on rolling, this one suggested by Loyal Reader Bill Seabrook, who had to put up with them back when he was just a kid and all he wanted was to find 17 other guys in the British Isles to play baseball with. East 17’s name comes from a London postal code. That trick never works – just ask 3OH!3.

The boys (the youngest turns 40 next year) danced, sang, and rapped their way through the 1990s, or at least until people got tired of them. “It’s Alright” is typical of their ouevre; it’s strongly reminiscent of Madonna. Oops! Britney could have done it again.

They had a hit in 1992 with “House of Love,” which sticks in your head whether you want it to or not. It would sound strong in a club where you could dance to it. Sitting here with my headphones on, I keep thinking they’re playing Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” at twice the speed. It just ended, and with an explosion, too, just like Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” Cool. You have to like pretty white boys pretending to be gangstas and singing/rapping about people needing more love. I wonder if they ever considered touring with House of Pain (another gaggle of white rappers) or covering Van Halen’s “House of Pain”? Probably not.

Heaven 17
Their name is from A Clockwork Orange, which makes me want to reread it. Heaven 17 was a branch of the British Electric Foundation, which was started by computer wizards who turned to the synthesizer to make dance music. This was a radical idea in the 1970s when Roxy Music and David Bowie were playing around with keyboards. It became the industry standard in the ’80s. Gary Numan, an artist I like very much, at least in the beginning of his career, took the synthesizer and went to the dark side of the moon. Depeche Mode found a somewhat sunnier space between Numan’s vision and sea foam like Heaven 17.

Heaven 17 (and their sibling The Human League, another branch of the BEF) are among my guilty pleasures. I’m not claiming that “Let Me Go,” “Penthouse and Pavement,” and my favorite, “(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang” are songs that will live forever, because they aren’t and they won’t. But they do make me pump up the volume. The Andre Norton Effect is undoubtedly at work here, since these tunes are all from the larval stage of my adult development.

If I had to place Heaven 17 in the hierarchy of ’80s synthesizer dance pop outfits, I’d rank them below Simple Minds, The The, Talk Talk, and Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, on a par with Howard Jones, but above flash-in-the-pans like The Spoons (“Nova Heart”) and Information Society (“Pure Energy,” which you may remember as the song that sampled Spock saying “pure energy”). They are way above A Flock of Haircuts. The undisputed kings of this kind of music were Duran Duran (and, for about 15 minutes, Thomas Dolby). All of these acts appeared in the immediate wake of MTV. They were all made for each other.

Matchbox Twenty
Their debut, Yourself or Someone Like You (1996), is probably the biggest-selling rock album of the decade…probably because it sounds like everything else. This is the guitar sound that all post-grunge bands tried to achieve. It makes me think of mainstream acts like Dave Matthews and Blues Traveler as well as ’70s arena-rock heroes Lynyrd Skynyrd and even Black Oak Arkansas. Matchbox Twenty’s sound may not be original but it’s entertaining and the perfect party soundtrack. Nobody wants to hear from a critic at a party. Nobody wants to hear from a critic most of the rest of the day, either, which is why Special D channeled my energies into this blog.

Matchbox Twenty’s first hit was “Push,” which is so mellow that I can’t understand why it ever got anywhere. But almost everything from their first album turned to gold, especially “Long Day,” “Real World,” and “3am.” Their singer and songwriter, Rob Thomas, could be the voice of the ’90s. You couldn’t escape him on alt-rock radio or even on the headbanger stations.

Thomas is the kind of guy who can do just about anything he wants to do, even though I have never understood how he does it. In 1999 he co-wrote and co-sang “Smooth” for Carlos Santana’s comeback album, Supernatural. Like everything having to do with Thomas, I thought this was adequate, but it soon became the most popular tune on the planet, proving once again that any idiot can write about music….Early on in this blog, I praised the man for his voice, which I still do.

In 2005, Thomas released a solo album called Something to Be. I thought “Lonely No More” was an OK song. Of course, it was a smash.

Rob Thomas supports animal rights, gay rights, and the rights of the homeless. He once wrote, “Each of us has a short ride on this earth and as long as we stay in our lane, and don’t affect someone else’s ride, we should be allowed to drive as we see fit.” That’s a hit with me.

UB40
The guys in UB40 met in a line at an unemployment office and decided to form a reggae band. Must’ve been a slow line. The money to buy their first instruments came from a compensation payment following a bar fight. Not all of them knew how to play these instruments. One of them called himself Astro and gave himself the title of Toaster. One of their first songs was a condemnation of Margaret Thatcher over Britain’s high unemployment rate. How can you not love them?

Their first successful album was Labour of Love (1983). It was made up of covers and included Neil Diamond’s “Red Red Wine,” which I still think is beautiful. Same goes for their cover of Al Green’s “Here I Am (Come and Take Me)” from Labour of Love II (1989).

Although UB40 have filled most of their 18 studio albums with other people’s hits, their best stuff in my opinion is on Rat in the Kitchen (1986), which was all theirs.

Level 42
The only album I know by Level 42 is World Machine (1985). I know the dance hits “Something About You” (which I like) and “Lessons in Love” (which I like a little less). I’ve read that they started out fusing jazz and funk and then tried fusing soul and R&B and eventually resorted to making one of their members sing, but I haven’t worked up the motivation to check this out. I have heard “The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up)” from 1984. It’s funky for sure but it’s never going to make anyone forget Earth, Wind & Fire.

We’re down to the last 18 bands. Over the next couple of days we’ll travel from 47 to…infinity (but not beyond)!

We have a thing in our house called the Andre Norton Effect. The Andre Norton Effect states that you can read and enjoy an Andre Norton novel as an adult only if you read and enjoyed the same novel as a kid. Nostalgia always forgives. The Andre Norton Effect explains a range of mysterious activities; for example, why I still like Billy Idol’s “White Wedding,” a song that by any objective standard is a speed bump in the forward path of musical progress.

So if in this series I have trampled upon someone’s favorite band from their youth, I’d like to apologize. If, for example – and I’m speaking at random here and not from intimate knowledge of anyone I know but rather I am proposing a fictional composite – you loved folk music as an idealistic college student a certain number of years ago and you worked hard after school serving espresso coffee to beatniks at the Sugar Shack and you spent your meager paycheck on, say, an album by We Five, then you perhaps took offense at certain observations I made about the lads. And if I had had your experience, I might never have said what I said. But I lack your experience, which is why I basically said that they suck. Sor-ree.

Out already
Two disqualifications this evening:

V6
This Japanese boy band debuted in 1995 singing covers of popular “eurobeat” songs. (Eurobeat means disco updated for the new millenium.) Each V6 member is assigned a color for life, and apparently they are in V6 for life – the oldest boy is now 43. I’m disqualifying them because the whole concept is terrifyingly stupid.

Temperance 7
The Temperance Seven
The New Temperance Seven
The Temperance Eight
This is all the same group, formed in Britain in 1957. They split in the ’60s; when they reformed in the ’80s they called themselves The New Temperance Seven and then expanded to The Temperance Eight. They played jazz and engaged in low comedy.

The Temperance Industrial Complex interest me only because I read that they had a hit in 1961 with “You, You’re Driving Me Crazy.” The producer was George Martin and that was his first trip to the number-one spot. It’s kind of New Orleans-y. Their singer, Whispering Paul McDowell, has listened to too much Rudy Vallee. “Whispering” is a great nickname…but not for a singer.

OK. Let’s go 6!

Apollonia 6
Prince had a trio of female singers named Vanity 6 who became Apollonia 6 when Vanity was replaced by Apollonia. I never dated anyone named Apollonia or Vanity. I never even went to a party where they had Apollonias and Vanitys. Apollonia 6 released one album, Sex Shooter (1984), featuring the title cut, “Sex Shooter” (“I’m a sex shooter/shootin’ love in your direction/I’m a sex shooter/come and play with my affections”). Their songs are Prince’s leftovers. Watch their videos with the sound off.

The 6ths
This is a side project of indie-god Stephin Merritt, who writes emo kinds of songs and then gets other indie-gods to sing them. Merritt released albums in 1995 (Wasp’s Nest) and 2000 (Hyacinths & Thistles). I’m not sure whom to compare The 6ths to, except maybe the Paisley Underground bands I mentioned the other day when I listened to The Three O’Clock. Wasp’s Nest has grown on me over the years.

Six By Seven
Allmusic.com describes them as “drone pop.” I don’t usually understand Allmusic’s descriptions, but this one I totally get. The five Brits in Six By Seven are the musical equivalent of an airliner waiting for its turn to take off. You never leave the runway but the engines stay revved. They occasionally do better on songs such as “Candlelight” (The Things We Make, 1998), but even there it never completely takes flight.

Sixpence None the Richer
Normally, I avoid Christian rock like the 10 plagues. So it’s only because of this project that I found myself voluntarily listening to Sixpence None the Richer. Sixpence broke into the mainstream with “Kiss Me” (1999), which was featured on Dawson’s Creek, which I guess was some kind of Young Adult cultural launching pad. It’s OK. The chiming guitars sound like LA in 1983 or like someone has thrown a blanket over R.E.M.

Sixpence gained more attention with covers of two British bands: “There She Goes” by The La’s and “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House. These pleasant interpretations don’t stray far from the originals. Sixpence None the Richer is sort of like Coldplay; just turn down the intensity and turn up the God. If I ever do a project on bands with money in their names (Cash Money Millionaires, 50 Cent, Pennywise, The Dimes, Nickelback, Ke$ha, Buck Owens) I’ll give them a second listen.

7 Seconds
They started playing their brand of unlistenable punk in the first wave of California punk bands in the late 1970s and here they are in 2013 still playing their brand of unlistenable punk. Founder Kevin Seconds is still with the band. Major points to Kevin for doing what he loves to do for 34 years, even if what he loves to do is unlistenable.

7 Seconds of Love
Another comedy act, like Four Bitchin’ Babes, but with rock rather than folk. Quizno’s uses their music in their commercials. I know I’m falling down on the job here, but their music is not on Rhapsody and I didn’t feel like trolling YouTube. I’ll wait until a Quizno ad turns up in a show I’m watching.

L7
More LA punk, this time from a gang of women who have no problem with throwing a used tampon from the stage. Their album that found the greatest acceptance was Bricks Are Heavy (1992), which spawned the alt-rock Top 10 hit “Pretend We’re Dead.” Bricks Are Heavy came along right after Nirvana and was produced by Nirvana producer Butch Vig. Yes, L7 benefited from the grunge groundswell, but they’re just as good as Alice in Chains or Temple of the Dog. “Everglade” and “Shitlist” were ’90s anthems. “Pretend We’re Dead” is not only infectious, it even has fun with words (“What’s up with what’s going down?”).

Unfortunately, the singers, Suzi Gardner and Donita Sparks, sound like they’re shagged out following a prolonged sqauwk. Actually, they sound like a very tired Joan Jett. If only Jett or Pat Benatar had sung this set….As it is, the album is locked in its era and not aging well, but “Pretend We’re Dead” will always sound good and “Everglade” is still a great driving song.

Crazy 8’s
I came close to disqualifying them, as they were never with a major label and are almost unknown outside of the Pacific Northwest. But their music is available on Rhapsody, and Special D and I saw them in Seattle in 1988 when they sang “Let’s get naked!” and we could see how hopeful they were that people actually would get naked. (They were disappointed for probably the one millionth time.) So I’m leaving them in.

If you like The English Beat, General Public, and The Specials, try Crazy 8’s, especially “Scratch & Claw.” Their best songs are collected on Still Crazy After All These Beers (2000). Whether you get naked or dress in business casual is your business.

8Ball
The only thing I can say about this Southern rapper is that his birth name is Premro Smith, and why did he think he needed a new name when he was already Premro? Try being born as Steve and see what that’s like! I can only dream of a name like Premro.

Nine Inch Nails

10cc
They started out in life as Hotlegs, a group of guys from Manchester with an impressive history involving The Yardbirds, The Hollies, Herman’s Hermits, Jeff Beck, and Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders. They scored a hit in 1970 with “Neanderthal Man,” which is one fun song, and became 10cc after signing with Jonathan King and being renamed by him.

(Apparently, when Jonathan King went into action, his partner could expect approximately 10ccs at the finish. Loyal Reader Bill Seabrook claims this name came to King in a dream. What an odd coincidence – I have the same kind of dream!)

10cc wrote literate lyrics for pop music that makes me ill. “Donna” is a 1972 doo-wop satire that I can’t stand. “Rubber Bullets” was another hit in 1973 and another swipe at the ’50s. It sounds way too much like ELO.

They were a smash in the UK, but they didn’t break into the US charts until 1975’s “I’m Not in Love,” which I heard every night at the restaurant where I worked as a dishwasher and back-up cook. I can’t hear it today without smelling something I’ve left too long on the grill. I’m going to stop here, even though they still have two more super explosive smash hit explosions that I would prefer to forget: “The Things We Do for Love” (1977) and “Dreadlock Holiday” (1978).

10 Years
10 Years is a ’90s alternative band that made the mistake of not forming until 2002. “Wasteland” (Autumn Effect) would’ve sounded spectacular in 1995 instead of derivative in 2005. “Beautiful” (Division) was another hit for them, this one in 2008. I would’ve enjoyed it more in 1998 before I heard a hundred other similar songs. If you’re into slow-moving, immensely heavy guitars, you might dig these guys, or you might want to stick with Tool.

Ten Years After
My feeling about Ten Years After is that they never had the material to match Alvin Lee’s guitar skills. Eric Clapton has had this problem for about 40 years. “I’d Love to Change the World” (1971) is a trippy souvenir of its time with a dynamite guitar line. “Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl” (1969) would be difficult to play today, now that we’ve learned that grown men should not be initiating sexual relationships with females who are still using Hello Kitty notebooks. “Love Like a Man” (1969) is a blues-rock hybrid that would’ve fit right in on a Led Zep or even a Steppenwolf album. In fact,  “Oo You” on McCartney (1970) sounds a lot like it, only it’s better.

Ten Years After is best known for “I’m Going Home.” It was one of the highlights of Woodstock, though at 11 minutes there’s a lot of filler to wade through. The fireworks don’t start until the 8-minute mark. The album version, which is half that length, still rocks today. At times it sounds as if Lee is trying to update Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock”!

Stonedhenge is the perfect name for an album released in 1969.

Tomorrow night: 12 through 80!

When I took up the challenge of reviewing every band with a number in its name, I thought it would be something mindless I could do while doing some other, more serious, thing. Well, it was often mindless (to cite one example, One Direction), but overall this project has proven to be more interesting than it had any right to be.

Why are there so few band names with numbers?
You loyal readers came up with 110 suggestions. I thought that was a lot – but how many bands have had major-label releases in the past 60 years? Surely there have been thousands, and that’s just in the English-speaking countries. Why are so few numbered?

Don’t expect an answer to that one, but I can tell you that approximately half the names on our list are variations on two, three, four, and five. That makes sense, since most bands have two, three, four, or five members. 101 Strings actually has more than 101 musicians plucking strings. I don’t know why they’re so modest when they’ve done so much to destroy our way of life.

Threat level: Not exactly off the scale
The rest of this lot falls into no discernible pattern, though you could make a small category of names that seem to threaten: World War III, World War Four, Five for Fighting, Nine Inch Nails (Trent Reznor), 10cc, 50 Foot Wave, The B-52s, MX80, 101 Strings (I always thought that one was a threat), 1000 Homo DJs (we’re here, we’re queer, we refuse to play “YMCA”), and 10,000 Maniacs. Frankly, none of these bands seem particularly threatening, unless you fear Reznor’s brand of relentless self-pity.

Get right out of town!
I decided to disqualify any act that wasn’t listed at Allmusic.com, or, failing that, in Wikipedia. Also, the act had to have at least one album from a major label – something you could find for sale at eBay or Half.com. This led to surprisingly few disqualifications of your suggestions.

  • Less Than Zero: It’s an Elvis Costello song, it’s a Bret Easton Ellis novel, it’s an early Robert Downey Jr. movie, it’s the name of several albums, but it’s not a band.
  • 2 Tribes: This is a song by Frankie Goes to Hollywood and some electro outfits. It’s not a band.
  • Devo 2.0: Mark Mothersbaugh cooperated with Disney to make disneyfied versions of his original songs. O the humanity!
  • The Five Jones Boys: George Jones played with four other boys, but they didn’t use a number. Also, they’re country. That reminds me: No country.

Much as I love jazz, I disqualified the entire genre. If I hadn’t, I would’ve been overrun by trios, quartets, and quintets.

Welcome to By the Numbers Week. Tomorrow night: One is the the loneliest number!

In our last, very exciting episode, I watched The Doors, listened to The Doors, and was floored. I then set out on a quest to find the Best Debut Albums of the 20th Century By Newcomers Who Aren’t Somebody Stupid Like Foreigner. I restricted the contestants to albums named for the band (as in The Doors by The Doors). This squeezed out some worthy discs. Here are my favorites.

The Beatles, Please Please Me (1963)
There are two amazing things about this record. One, The Beatles recorded Please Please Me in, like, a day, even though Paul was dead, John was a walrus, and Yoko had already broken them up. Two, rock ’n’ roll went from holding your hand to sleeping in your soul kitchen in about three years. Shake it up baby now.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced? (1967)
I have two connections with Jimi Hendrix. According to Wikipedia, “Hendrix’s first gig was with an unnamed band in the basement of a synagogue, Seattle’s Temple De Hirsch. After too much wild playing and showing off, he was fired between sets.” In 1981, I played in Seattle’s Jewish softball league for Congregation Beth Shalom. Playing Temple De Hirsch was like playing the New York Yankees. They had the money and the manpower – their congregation was five times the size of ours. One of their rabbis searched their roster until he found half a dozen men who had played minor-league ball and then persuaded them to join the temple’s team. You could not hit anything past that infield. And all of those guys had visited that basement.

My other connection comes from the 1997 marriage of my friends Liz and Mitch. While speaking to the bandleader between sets, he confided in me that he had known Hendrix as a kid and had taught him “everything he knew.” I wanted to ask him why the man who taught Hendrix everything he knew was playing weddings 30 years later, but then the bride and groom handed out bubble blowers and I got distracted. Anyway, I shook the hand of the man who taught Hendrix everything he knew.

If Jimi Hendrix were alive today, he’d be cutting discs with Wynton Marsalis, Danny Elfman, and Yo-Yo Ma, but not, I hope, with Coldplay.

Elvis Costello, My Aim Is True (1977)
This jet-propelled collection of songs gives you absolutely no clue to the musical continents Costello would explore over his career. Even so, he’d still be remembered today even if he had just recorded this disc and his follow-up, This Year’s Model.

The Cure, Three Imaginary Boys (1979)
The normally dour Robert Smith must’ve been on antidepressants when he made this zippy little record. The cover of “Foxey Lady,” once it finally gets going, is hilarious.

Gary Numan, The Pleasure Principle (1979)
When I was 24 I wanted to be an android and I’m sure you did too. Numan isn’t as frightening as he used to be – he’s on The Muppets’ soundtrack. (If you’re curious, The Muppets is Prairie Home Companion with better jokes.)

Echo & The Bunnymen, Crocodiles (1980)
Crocodiles is haunting and dreamlike, which makes it the closest thing on this list to The Doors, emotionally. Echo and all those bunnies don’t rock as hard as The Doors, but they do pretty well with “Read It in Books” and “All That Jazz.” Their lyrics are fun to sing but mean just about nothing. The first few notes of “Rescue” somehow tell the story of my life.

The Dream Syndicate, The Days of Wine and Roses (1982)
In the 1960s, the Philadelphia Phillies had a double-play combination of Bobby Wine and Cookie Rojas. No headline writer of that era could resist the headline “Days of Wine and Rojas.”

The Dream Syndicate was a major influence on what is today called “alternative.” Don’t ask me to tell you what “alternative” means. But I can tell you that this is a terrific rock record, especially the title track. Steve Wynne sounds just like Lou Reed, who initially tried to sound just like Bob Dylan. No one wants to meet the guy Dylan has been imitating.

Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine (1989)
One of the best records of the ’80s, with a title that will always describe my first dog, Emma. Trent Reznor, who recorded almost everything on this album by himself and then formed a band, is not a happy man:

Hey God
Why are you doing this to me?
Am I not living up to what I’m supposed to be?
Why am I seething with this animosity?
Hey God
I think you owe me a great big apology.
(“Terrible Lie”)

If you’re feeling euphoric and you want to tone that down a little, Pretty Hate Machine is the album for you.

Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville (1993)
Ms. Phair can’t sing, and when she tries she’s consistently flat, maybe because her mouth is shaped funny. But she has an interesting voice, and she writes piercing songs in the manner of Chrissie Hynde, though she’s more vulnerable:

And the license said you had to stick around until I was dead
But if you’re tired of looking at my face, I guess I already am
(“Divorce Song”)

Liz Phair emerged from the lo-fi indie world. (“Lo-fi” and “indie” are code for “We are so not Steely Dan.”) Exile in Guyville reflects her origins – it sounds as if it had been put together in her living room. It’s one of the landmarks of the ’90s, even though it doesn’t include her big hit, “Supernova,” which is about me. Many of these songs throw structural tricks at you, such as “Johnny Sunshine” – the first minute of that song is the best minute on the album. Like The Doors, Phair has never hit this personal standard again.

Beck, Mellow Gold (1994)
Jim Morrison may have acted like he was a shaman, but Beck actually is. The ubiquitous “Loser” leads off this monster, but it’s nowhere near the best song – just listen to “Beercan.”

Veruca Salt, American Thighs (1994)
You read it here first: Veruca Salt and Soundgarden are actually the same band. Chris Cornell was the voice of Soundgarden; Louise Post and Nina Gordon were the voices of Veruca Salt. You could swap them and the music would be almost the same. I’d love to hear Louis and Nina sing “Fell on Black Days,” with Chris singing “Seether.” Soundgarden released Superunknown, their fourth album, in the same year, which just proves that these are people who get a lot done in a day.

Postscript: No way am I choosing two obvious debuts, R.E.M.’s Murmur (1983) and Pearl Jam’s Ten (1990). These bands are way overrated, plus look how boring the album titles are. And now Eddie Vedder is giving ukulele concerts! The B-52s warned us about what could happen if parties got out of hand. R.E.M. and Pearl Jam are Exhibits A and B. Puny humans.

Emma: Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine

Flying baby

Sailor: Guns N’ Roses, Appetite for Destruction

Teddy: Blue Cheer, Louder Than God

Emma and Sailor are gone but Teddy barks on!

Addendum from the future (2016):

Manz Mar 14 Cleo in flight

Cleo: Quicksilver Messenger Service, Happy Trails