Okay, so I write a lot here about musicians that I listen to. And generally, when I mention a specific album from them, such as Apostrophe (‘) or 40 More Reasons To Hate Us, I actually own a copy of that album and have listened to it at length. Thus, when I make comments about why the album is not up to my standards or far exceeding them, and how it reflects the makers’ creative state of mind at the time of making, I pretty much always have a basis for what I am talking about. But from time to time, I come across an artist whose main body of work does not interest me that much, but little pieces thereof do. This writing will go into some of them and who they are. Not to mention why.
The song Blue Monday, as I have talked about elsewhere, is where I got the name of this journal from. The song itself is basically a seven and a half minute disco dancing tune, but without the emphasis on herd conformity and moronity that has since come to define this genre. Although the repeated and sometimes vague lyrics leave most of it fairly ambiguous, a lot of what comes through in the vocals suggests the song is a first-person story about a person who is in an abusive relationship and wants to know how the person abusing them feels about the situation.
As I said, the name of this journal originates from Blue Monday. Every autistic adult whom Jesus did not drop-kick through the goalposts of life should be looking at social services and bluntly asking them how it feels to treat them (autistic adults) like they (social services) do.
“I still find it so hard, to say what I need to say,” Bernard Sumner sings. “But I’m quite sure that you’ll tell me, just how I should feel today.” All I can say is amen.
The Beastie Boys
The Beastie Boys have two songs that belong on this list. The first that I heard in its proper form is called Sabotage. Sabotage is your standard rap song with the vocalist talking big about some misdeeds of an unnamed subject, and would be a complete non-entity if not for certain aspects of the manner in which The Beastie Boys perform it.
John Lydon has a particular quote about rap that I like to refer to when talking about why I would not miss the genre at all if ninety-nine percent of it mysteriously disappeared from the world. I will not relate it in full here, but Lydon refers to how much worse the genre got when it narrowed into what he terms a ridiculous, “black only” attitude, and how the artists within the genre continued to disrespect one another in the most appalling ways. The Beastie Boys, whilst usually pouring out a lot of formulaic music that had less than no appeal to me, at least managed to buck this trend very firmly in a number of ways. And Sabotage was one such way. Unlike a lot of their contemporaries, The Beastie Boys were not willing to remain within the confines of what makes rap, and threw in influences from punk and hardcore to mix it up a bit. Sabotage is where the punk influence rose out of the depths like a hydra. The song is structured around a rolling, grinding bass riff that is topped with some good drumming, vocals that sound like a cranky fifteen year old (in a good way), and the occasional record-scratch riff that adds to rather than takes away from the song. It is no wonder that when Paramount chose to create a new Star Trek film that details earlier aspects of the original crew’s life, they chose Sabotage as a musical symbol of an adolescent version of James Kirk.
The other Beastie Boys song. Well, this is where it gets a bit funny. If you live outside of America, then there is a distinct possibility that you heard a satire of this song by Morris Minor And The Majors first. This satire, Stutter Rap (No Sleep ‘Til Bedtime), was so much more widely distributed than the song it was a satire of, No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn, that people frequently did not realise the former was a satire. Indeed, when I tried to tell some people this… well, let me put it this way. Playing No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn at them and demanding an apology for the way they spoke to me when I tried to enlighten them often brings me a good giggle. Both songs are worthy of a listen, so it is all good.
Okay, I will lay it on the line for you. I hate most of the singles I have heard from Elton John. To me, he has become akin to the musical version of Oprah Winfrey’s book club. As he sings things like “ooh baby you’re the one” and such, I think to myself “haven’t I heard this before from you about like sixty times?”.
Then there’s I’m Still Standing. I’m Still Standing is still a pop song, through and through, but it is like the pop songs of the 1970s and early 1980s, where invention rather than similarity were required to sell a few million copies. It is a song about a spurned lover basically telling the other spurned lover what to go and do with themselves, but in a creative rather than straightforward fashion. That means something when you have been drowned in enough poppy shit. (And any song that gets an incredibly idiotic cover by Anal Cunt is automatically above the pack.)
Which brings me to the other Elton John song I cannot ignore like pretty much the entire rest of his discography. Passengers was originally conceived as a protest song against Apartheid. But for reasons both relating to and having nothing to do with South Africa, the song has mutated into something much more. It is an expression of everything felt by every second-class citizen with a uniting characteristic. And that includes the autistic. Who else should the non-ignorant think of when Elton John sings that “non-commercial native… is tattooed in your veins”?
A similar deal exists with Donovan. Most of his songs, I could not give a fart in a hurricane for. When I first heard the Butthole Surfers‘ version of The Hurdy Gurdy Man as an ill-informed fourteen year old, however, I was hooked. I later learned that this was, in fact, a rather “torn to shreds” (paraphrasing Donovan‘s words) cover of a Donovan song. And would you not know it? I like both versions equally. The Butthole Surfers version is indeed a torn to shreds take on Donovan‘s work. Much like all of the Butthole Surfers‘ best work, it sounds like the result of taking time out of a busy drug-ingesting schedule to write a song.
Donovan‘s original, however, was intended to be a darker, more sombre contrast to his more frolicky, flower-power-oriented catalogue. It shows. Whereas I get the feeling that Donovan is singing to a baby with most of his songs, The Hurdy Gurdy Man is a powerfully mournful tune that I often reference in story segments about characters mourning the deaths of loved ones by violence. For a number of reasons, I can see it as also being about the power of forgiveness, and how grievous it generally is when the possibility of forgiveness is gone forever.
GG Allin has a higher ratio of songs I care to listen to compared to the other artists I have mentioned in the previous parts of this list, but that is obviously not saying a lot. And as I spent a minute or two explaining to my mother during one of her patient, understanding visits to my home earlier in the day I wrote this paragraph, GG‘s parole board said it best when they described him as being “a performer for all the wrong reasons”.
GG Allin has a number of great songs where the title either says it all, or says it all with a little supplement from his own voice. Dog Shit (“everything that I see, everything you are to me…”), Legalize Murder, and Suck My Ass It Smells are just three of dozens. But probably GG‘s best-known song is also the best expression of how a lot of the victims of Ritalin-pushers feel they were seen during the 1980s. “Let’s fukk some kids… they can’t say no! Molest them now before they grow!”, GG sings. Ritalin-pushers like the ones I grew up under the purview of probably hope he was being serious. People like me, on the other hand, hope to Odin above that he was not. With a title like Expose Yourself To Kids, pretty much anyone with a sense of decency was on the latter side of this equation.
Peter Gabriel has released numerous albums and singles. But I have only heard two that really keep me coming back for repeats. The first of these that I heard was called Big Time. Essentially, it is a song about a talented individual born in shitsville, nowhere who has decided he has had enough and wants to go in pursuit of the ability to exploit his talents to the fullest extent. You know, the kind of song I intend to shove up Thomas Edwin McIntosh‘s “everything has to be rural” arse one note at a time.
But the song that appeals most to my sense of uniqueness and the celebration thereof, at least from Peter Gabriel‘s catalogue, is simply titled Sledgehammer. I want to be… your sledgehammer, he sings at several points in the song. With precisely-timed applications of a mild echo and a moderate flange to his voice, Gabriel was essentially sending the little boy version of me a siren signal that I wanted this song. Whilst both of these songs are a little too repetitive for my liking in lyrical terms, their inventive nature, in the sense that I literally cannot predict from one bar to the next what sort of instrumental break I will hear, suffices for me.
Head Like A Hole
During my early to mid teens, a big bonanza erupted, at least in Australia, concerned with bands from New Zealand and the weirdness of music they could make. Caught up in this brief but very interesting rare example of a good and positive trend was a quartet (which later expanded to a five-piece) called Head Like A Hole. Now, during one exchange on a BBS that I probably should have given up on when I was fourteen or so, one of the retards who frequented it actually posted at me “the band you call Head Like A Hole… is Nine Inch Nails”. I am going back nearly two decades now, so I am unsure of the exact phrasing or connection of words, but that was generally it. Well, thanks to the magic of the Internet, I can put the video that commences this part of the write-up there for his edification and say shove this up your arse, you trend-pushing normie.
The song in the video you see above is called Nevermind Today, and appeared on two releases. The first was an EP called Beelzebeats. The second was an album simply titled 13. Both had cover photos revolving around the disembodied heads of folks, probably a member or two of the band. The cover of the latter release was heavily photoshopped (photoshopped in this case meaning someone with negatives, a razor blade, and a lot of time on his hands) in order to make it appear as if the individual in the photo had a stray cat emerging from his wide-open mouth. Yeah, they are that kind of band. This is the journal of a Powell type who grew up in the Reagan and Bush eras, after all. Act surprised.
More albums and songs followed. I have never really had a chance to listen to a complete Head Like A Hole album, but have painstakingly culled together songs from a compilation and tracked down cover art or publicity photos in order to compile into a playlist of bands that I like one or two songs of, but do not wish to jump into a whole album for. Of the five I have culled together, my other two favourites are Wallow (Hogs To A Waterhole), and 1 Pound 2 Pound. The former is a B-side from the Faster Hooves EP, that has the rare distinction of being a song where the vocalist getting in the face of the listener (essentially, roaring at the top of his lungs “wallow, wallow (something unintelligible) hogs (unintelligible, possibly mentioning a waterhole)” and so on) is not a turn-off. The latter is a song from the same album sessions that produced the Faster Hooves EP. Like the Faster Hooves song, 1 Pound 2 Pound appears on the second Head Like A Hole album, Flik Y’Self Off Y’Self. But 1 Pound 2 Pound is above and beyond anything Head Like A Hole have recorded before or since (saying a lot, with competition like Nevermind Today). The key word in this song title is Pound. As in that is exactly what it does in terms of rhythm. And no, I do not mean it is a techno or dance song. Head Like A Hole were too good for that.
And that concludes what I have to say about the handfuls of artists that I can only really recommend a couple of songs from. If this writing prompts you to go out and learn more about the artists mentioned, or even add some of their work to your collection, then I thank you for making the effort. If not, piss off.