George Thorogood & the Destroyers – Bad to the Bone

I think I’ve mentioned my “musical Renaissance”  previously on this site – when my older step-brother tossed aside my Def Leppard and Poison albums and loaned me his own collection, introducing me to a world of music I didn’t even know existed. It was the aural equivalent of dropping acid, and I burned through dozens and dozens of albums over the next few months, my little pop music teenage idiot mind expanding with every listen.

In this pic: the real deal.
Pictured: the real deal.

One of those albums was Bad to the Bone, by George Thorogood & the Destroyers. I remember liking what I heard, but had no inkling of who they were, where they came from, or what any of it meant. I also remember staring at the album while I listened, the one with George himself grinning right out at you, and thinking to myself, “This motherfucker is the real deal.”
It’s been years – probably 20, at least – since I gave this one a listen, so I wanted to see if it still held up. While many of the songs on the album are covers of other artists – some well known, some totally obscure – Thorogood and his band give them a wholly unique sound.
Note: The original album, released in 1982, had 10 tracks on it, but that version is hard to find online. The one that’s easy to find is the 25th anniversary release, which includes an additional 7 tracks. So, for our purposes, write your reviews based on the original tracks only, which end at “Wanted Man.”
Bad to the Bone on Wikipedia
Album link on iTunes
Bad to the Bone on AllMusic
Official website

Meat Loaf: Bat out of Hell

Yeah, I know, it’s a bit of strange pick, but when I started reading up on it, the phrase “A science fiction update of Peter Pan filtered through the teen angst of Springsteen” came up and I thought How can that not be worth a second look??
Bat out of Hell is a strange album – an influential and highly successful effort with dense and complicated lyrics that glorify the sheer powerBat_out_of_Hell of rock and roll – or, rather, ROCK AND ROLLLLLLLL!!!! It sits on a gold and red velvet throne atop the genre of…what? Early glam rock? Rock and roll musical theater? Heavy metal lite? Progressive rock opera? It’s hard to pin down, but the 40+ million copies it’s sold since it was released in 1977 is hard to ignore.
This album holds a special place in my heart, as I “discovered” it during a very musically fertile time in my life, but it’s been ages since I gave it a solid listen. I wonder how it holds up, and am even more curious to hear what my esteemed Sonic Collective brothers think.
Bat out of Hell on iTunes
Wikipedia page
Short article on how the album came to be, and the fallout of its sucess

Muse – Black Holes and Revelations

Muse came to Bangkok a few weeks back and almost everyone I know went. Me with a kid at home, well, concerts don’t really happen anymore. But everyone was raving about it the day after, so I decided to check them out and loved what I heard. I know one of the conditions for album picks in the Sonic Collective is that they should have had some kind of meaning for us, but despite only recently learning of Muse, I know that if I had known about Black Holes and Revelations in 2006, I would most definitely have had it on repeat for weeks.Continue reading

Skunk Anansie: Paranoid and Sunburnt

If there’s one thing Skunk Anansie is not, it’s dull. Any band that describes their style of music as “clit-rock” can pretty much be guaranteed not to bore.
The first time I heard Skunk was on an HMV sampler tape that my friend gave me in about 1999. I put it in my yellow Sony Walkman when I went for a walk, pressed play, and had my eardrums blown up. The song I listened to was Charlie Big Potato, and I finished my walk in record time. I bought their latest album Post Orgasmic Chill immediately after and nearly wore it out. I followed their career after that, but for whatever reason I never listened to their older material in any depth. Their newer albums have gotten much more poppy and less edgy, so I wanted to go back to their very first album and give it a thorough re-listen.
Paranoid and Sunburnt came out in 1994 with Skin on vocals, Cass on bass, Ace on guitar, and Mark on drums. Its mix of punk, funk, rock, metal, and reggae was an immediate success in their native Britain and beyond. This paragraph from Wikipedia sums up their reception:

In 1995 they were voted Best New British Band by the readers of Kerrang! magazine…Soon after that, two of their songs, “Feed” and “Selling Jesus”, appeared on the soundtrack of the film Strange Days. Success continued  and they were also voted Kerrang!‘s Best British Live Act in 1996. In 1997 they were nominated for Best Live Act and Best Group at the MTV Europe Music Awards.

One thing I like about them is that they manage to have diverse hobbies and tastes outside of the band. Skin is a model and one-time interior designer; Ace is a record producer and teaches workshops at some of the world’s top performance institutions; Cass’ career got its start with, of all people, Terrence Trent D’Arby; and Mark is a passionate bike rider who has completed multiple mega-rides such as the Enduro Africa (2,500km) and Experience Africa (1,500km – twice) for charity. It doesn’t make them better, but I dunno, it just seems cool that they all have such diverse lives outside of being rock stars.Skunk-Anansie-I-believe-in-you
They were going strong up until 2001 when they broke up, but reformed in 2009, and have released two albums since then. Their politics and racial diversity has been hard to miss in many of their songs, and even in real life (Skin is married to the daughter of an American Republican billionaire). This is readily apparent on Paranoid and Sunburnt, with titles such as “Intellectualise My Blackness” and “Little Baby Swastikkka.”
From what I remember, this is an album best listened to LOUD with good headphones, so put away the tea cozies and go for a run or hit the gym, and enjoy the listen.
Paranoid and Sunburnt on iTunes
Skunk Anansie’s website (not much there, but they do have a good presence on social media)
Skunk Anansie on Facebook
Mark on Instagram
Skin on Instagram
Ace on Instagram

Jane's Addiction: Ritual de lo Habitual

This might meander at first, but bear with me:
In 1990 I was just coming into my personal musical renaissance. My social circle was expanding, and with it, my exposure to all types of music and bands I’d never heard of. It was awesome. Among my new friends was a guy named Tim. Tim was, to me, the coolest guy in high school. He had a cool car. His girlfriend was beautiful. He was the lead in the school play. He wore clothes that no one else could get away with. He made short superhero movies during his spare periods. Jocks loved him. Drama geeks loved him. Teachers loved him. He rode BMX, told the best jokes, and was an incredible artist. Everything about him was cool. Except for one thing – his taste in music.
To a wannabe like me, some of it was okay, but most of it was just weird, and none more weird than his favorite band – Jane’s Addiction. Their album Ritual de lo Habitual would blast out of his room whenever I visited, and I just didn’t get it. They were awful. Their music was all over the place, the singer had a screeching, scraggly voice with no finesse, and I never gave them much thought beyond that. Maybe I just wasn’t cool enough or mature enough to really appreciate it? Over the years a song or two of theirs occasionally drifted in and out of my consciousness and I read their name sometimes in articles on influential artists, but I never really gave them a good listen. So, I thought this might be the perfect opportunity.ritual_de_lo_habitual_cover
Formed in 1985, the band managed to slalom past the tragic gravity wells of various styles and fads – hair bands (Cinderella, Poison), hard rock (Guns N’ Roses, Skid Row), pop (REM, U2), and the early days of grunge (Mother Love Bone, Sonic Youth). They maintained their unique sound and gained a large cult following before breaking up in 1991, when their farewell tour launched Lollapalooza, the Granddaddy of modern rock festivals. (That was also the same year Nevermind blew everyone else right out of the water, so maybe it was good timing).
As Jane’s Addiction, vocalist Perry Farrell, guitarist Dave Navarro, drummer Stephen Perkins, and bassist Eric Avery have inspired a wide swath of the industry and have retained a loyal following, even as the members moved on to various solo projects (most notably Farrell and Navarro). The band has reunited several times since then to various levels of acclaim, but none of their efforts have resonated like Ritual de lo Habitual did. Indeed, Rolling Stone listed Ritual de lo Habitual #55 on its list of top 100 albums of the 1990s.
But despite never being a fan, even now – 25 years later – I’m immediately transported back to Tim’s basement whenever I hear the spoken opening words to Stop (performed by Cindy Lair – yowza). I wanted to give this album a solid re-listen as an adult, and get the input from you fine gentlemen as well to see if the album improves with time and a more mature point of view, or if it’s really just designed for a specific type of listener at a specific point in time. I have a feeling it’s the former, as these two conflicting reviews from Rolling Stone attest:
October 1990: “Ritual de lo Habitual finds Jane’s Addiction thin and wandering…Split into a hard-rockin’ side and a prog-rock side, the album doesn’t cohere — whatever the band members have been doing for the last two years, they haven’t been practicing much.” – RdlH album review
April 2011: “Ritual is the album most likely to convert skeptics. Not only does it have two great singles — the game of sonic peekaboo “Stop!” and the anarchist manifesto “Been Caught Stealing” — but the whole record rides a groove that’s as hard and frenetic as the Santa Monica Freeway leading right into these surfers’ beloved curl.” -100 Best Albums of the 90’s list
-Greg Jorgensen
Please click here to read our reviews of Ritual de lo Habitual.
Ritual de lo Habitual on iTunes
Jane’s Addiction on Wikipedia
Ritual de lo Habitual on Wikipedia
Jane’s Addiction official website