Friday, July 30, 2010

Rage Against the Machine

This video clip is not from a show that I saw, but it is a live performance from the same place I first saw Rage Against the Machine. My life changed forever. FOREVER!

It was actually a few years before this, when the band first started becoming popular, that I got into the loud bad-ass rocking motherfuckers that they were. At the time, I was really a number of different types of music, migrating a little bit from the hardcore rap and heavy metal/rock that I had been listening to, moving closer towards a hybrid of the similar proportions. I was really into the Chili Pepper's Blood Sugar Sex Majic, which came out in 1991, and then the first major label release for Rage was in 92. While Rage was probably still a little on the heavy side, these guys could totally ROCK! Every song on that first album was just filled with so much energy that you couldn't help turn down the windows and turn up the radio! Hell ,even the album cover was bad-ass! These guys were no joke. Played that CD so much I had to buy another copy.

One of my most vivid memories that involved Rage, besides being totally blown away seeing them live in the earlier days (if you haven't watched the video at the top of this post, please do yourself a favor and watch it.), was when I attended NFTY Convetion in East Brunswick, NJ. I roomed with my buddy Jason, whose agenda for the majority of the weekend consisted of two things: 1) Plage Rage Against the Machine Really Fucking Loud!; 2) Street Fighter II on SNES. Yes, we were uber-cool.

Anyway, thus began my lifelong love of the RATM. To this day, I'm looking for good recordings of their stuff. Was sad when Zak left the band because once that happened, they were no longer Rage. Chris Cornell did a good job with Tom Morello to form Audioslave but it just wasn't the same. And I've been enjoying Street Sweeper Social Club as well, but it still just falls a little short.

I was excited to hear just recently that the guys would be getting back together to play, but disappointed that it had to be for a reason such as it was, to protest the crazy Arizona immigration law. But it's true to RATM form, for sure. These guys were serious about the message they were laying down. It wasn't just a "let's get rowdy" anthem for them. They were serious, and they wanted you to know about it. While I didn't believe with all the extreme views they had, I did agree with their killer beats and solos with sick rhymes over it.

Some Rage highlights for ya:

- Bomb Track - off the first album (self-titled). This is the one that started it all. hard not to love it.
- Killing in the Name - also off the first album. My band in high school played Voodoo Child > Killing in the Name for the talent show on the last day of school. We got in trouble for our lead singing screaming the chorus over and over "FUCK YOU I WON'T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!"
- Know your Enemy - first album. This is and was my alltime favorite Rage song. just love it.
-Bulls on Parade (Evil Empire). Showing that the 2nd album picked up where the 1st left off. Heavy duty.
- Sleep now in the Fire (Battle of Los Angeles): Great tune with a lot of energy.
- Testify (Battle of Los Angeles): Get a feel for the hip-hop meets heavy metal that made these guys so much fun to listen to.
- Renegades of Funk (Renegades EP): Best. Cover. Ever. This whole album is great. it also includes a sick version of the guys doing Bob Dylan's "Maggie's Farm".

Monday, July 19, 2010

Phase II: The digital conversion

NOTE TO READERS: There are a bunch of hyperlinks in this posting. Some add value, some are just there to annoy you. But if you don't see them because you're viewing in a feed reader or a mobile device or something, I recommend going directly to the page to view. If not, your loss...

So in the last few months I got rid of all my cassette tapes (except the mixes so maybe one day I'll get around to posting another Mixtape Monday!). I gave away about two thirds of the vinyl that I had (granted it was mostly classical and I'm not a huge fan. my wife's brother is, so it worked out rather well for everyone). And while that's been going on, I had been working on Phase I of the CD collection migration.

Phase I consisted of pulling all of the non-official record label production CD's and ripping them to the hard drive and trashing the old CD-R's. It was quite a daunting process, mainly because some of them have been in the collection for such a long time that it was before there was much good technology to tag/label tracks. And it's a real pain in the ass when you have two hundred discs sitting on the table and everyone that loads comes up as "Unknown Album by Unknown Artist" for tracks that are named "Track 1", "Track 2", etc. But after much manual effort, I got through phase one. Will about 750 Gigs to spare on the old 1-Terabyte hard drive. Which, incidentally, will probably need to be replaced before this project is even over. It's not instilled the highest level of confidence that it constantly isn't recognized by my computer and I must unplug/reboot it in order for it to work. But we'll worry about that soon enough...

So, now we're on to Phase II. Taking all the official Record Label releases and burning them to mp3. Quite a daunting task ahead, so it should be interesting to see how it goes. I started yesterday with my first CD 00_Soul's All Brothers, Different Mothers.

On a quick sidenote, my CD collection is organized alphabetically by artist. First letter if it's a band, first letter of last name if it's an artist. If it's an artist in the band name such as "Dave Matthews Band", it's still filed under "Matthews". And numeric comes before alpha, which is why 00_Soul is the first album. Also, soundtracks and compilations are separated into their own shelves/orders (soundtracks alphabetically by movie title; no specific order for compilations).

OK, so anyway, as I was saying. This is gonna take for-fucking-ever to complete! I started last night and got through about a dozen cd's. Tonight, I did another dozen. You know how far I got? I just finished with the Allman Brothers. That's right, two nights and I got all the way through AL. Only a shit-ton more to go, WOOHOO!

BUT.... I can already tell that I'm really going to enjoy this process. Honestly, I have so many fucking CD's on these shelves that I sometimes forget what I have up there. And going through just the few discs that I already have ripped has opened my eyes to a ton of great music sitting in my collection that I just haven't even thought about or heard in so long. I didn't ever have much of my collection on digital copy before because I always had a CD changer in my car. So either way I could always listen to whatever I wanted. But now the CD changer in my car is broken so it's iPod or satellite radio. And I need to do something with these CD's eventually anyway.

So hopefully I'll share some good gems of music with y'all, and perhaps some good stories around the music or the discs themselves. To start, as I said earlier, I'm somewhat limited because it's mostly been a few artists and then a crapload of Allmans, but here's a few to start with:

Action Figure Party:   Still not really sure how I cam across this one, though if I recall correctly it was an interview I heard on 88.5 WXPN with the dude who formed the group. And it was catchy. And we all like action figures, no?

Julian Cannonball Adderly: Probably my favorite jazz sax player EVER. Somethin' Else is top 3 favorite jazz albums of all time. Includes Miles Davis on Trumpet and Art Blakey on drums. This. Is. Jazz. Dammit. Also ripped Mercy, Mercy, Mercy which has dual importance to me because I still have the vinyl version of this album that was my father's and because I remember being a sound tech for my high school jazz band and hearing them play the title track. Always enjoyed it. Always wanted to hear Karl Denson cover it.

Aerosmith: Pump. I remember playing along to "Love in an Elevator" and "What it takes"  during my drum lessons in middle school. Good times.

Allman Brothers: Whipping post, yo. Whipping post. These guys DEFINED what a live album was supposed to be when they put out the Fillmore concerts on Dual LP (which I also still have from my dad). And their other stuff is just as fantastic. Gets a little less with the more recent releases. And one of my all-time proudest finds at Positively Records was getting the Allmans "Dreams" 4-disc boxed set used for only 20 bucks! ROCK AND ROLL!

Duane Allman: Deserves an entry to himself. Incredible guitarist who was taken from us before his time was up. But he blessed us with a ton of incredible music while he was here. The 2-disc Anthology and Anthology II include some incredible work with the Allmans and some really interesting collaborations he did including Derek & The Dominos, Aretha Franklin singing "The Weight" and a true blues version of "Come on in my Kitchen" with Delaney and Bonnie. Just awesome.

OK that's enough. I doubt you even read all this anyway. More goodies to come....