Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Retarded picks for best albums of 2016

Posted: December 31, 2016 by The Social Retard in Music

Wow. Has it been a while since any posts have been made on here, huh? This year was rough for music when it comes to our fallen heroes. We lost David Bowie, Sharon Jones, and Prince, for Pete’s sake. But we soldier on and praise those still capable of making us smile with their talent. That said here our my top 25 albums of 2016, complete with handy dandy videos for your convenience.

25. Russian Circles – Guidance (Sargent House)

Starting this list off with some local flavor. These guys have been making elite post-metal for some time and this is yet another solid entry in their catalog.

24. Charles Bradley – Changes (Daptone)

I first heard Mr. Bradley in Luke Cage and found out that he shared a label with Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. He’s a lot different in his singing style but very effective.

23. Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression (Loma Vista)

I was not nearly as enamored with this album as most critics were. It was the best Iggy solo album in quite some time, so it had that going for it. There were definitely some great songs, however.

22. The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Third World Pyramid (‘a’)

When Lollapalooza came back in 2005, I was foolish and passed up on seeing the band that I thought had the coolest name. This record is a bit under the radar and can be a bit wearying at times, but definitely worth your time.

21. Metallica – Hardwired… to Self-Destruct (Blackened)

This is a record that definitely benefitted from a second listen. This is definitely the best thing these guys have put out in 25 years. Faint praise, I guess.

20. Bob Mould – Patch the Sky (Merge)

Since good ol’ Bob signed on with Merge, he has done the most exciting work in his solo career. This is the least amazing of the bunch but that is saying something.

19. Pixies – Head Carrier (Pixiesmusic)

After their reunion album, the fact that this is as good as it turned out is an astonishing acheivement.

18. S U R V I V E – RR7349 (Relapse)

My obsession with Stranger Things didn’t stop with the show itself, oh no. The guys behind the soundtrack also gave us this.

17. Cymbals Eat Guitars – Pretty Years (Sinderlyn)

These guys just don’t make bad records. They soften their hard edges but the songs are still damned solid.

16. The Joy Formidable – Hitch (Caroline)

Coming off of a bit of a misstep with their last album, the band appears to be a force once again.

15. Beyoncé – Lemonade (Parkwood)

Full disclosure: I still haven’t gotten around to watch the HBO movie or special or whatever on this. I’ll get to it eventually. Even without that, though, this is the best thing Bey has done since Sasha Fierce.

14. Nothing – Tired of Tomorrow (Relapse)

The second entry from Relapse Records is some shoegaze metal. My lists tend to be littered with My Bloody Valentine-type things but this one balances the pretty and brutal.

13. DIIV – Is the Is Are (Captured Tracks)

Speaking of pretty shoegaze, this is the only one on the list. This is the band’s sophomore effort and it is even more ambitious than their debut. Hopefully, the drug problems are a thing of the past because I want to hear these guys for a long time to come.

12. Dinosaur Jr. – Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not (Jagjaguwar)

Just when it seems like J. Mascis and company have run their course together, they give us a rejuvenated effort on par or better than their first two reunion albums. They have never sounded better, honestly.

11. Savages – Adore Life (Matador)

In a little bit of a down year for Matador Records, they give us this minimalist post-punk gem. Adore Life is even more enjoyable than their first album. If Patti Smith (not Patty Smyth) was in Sleater-Kinney, this is what it would sound like.

10. Haley Bonar – Impossible Dream (Memphis Industries)

I first became aware of Bonar from her side project, Gramma’s Boyfriend. Their last album, PERM, was my very favorite thing from last year. Now, this is not quite as good but still excellent.

9. Mind Spiders – Prosthesis (Dirtnap)

Another entry from another band that is incapable of making a less than stellar effort. Despite their status as a “side project”, I dig them much more than the “main band”, the Marked Men. They are likely the closest that we’re going to get to Jay Reatard again.

8. Psychic Teens – Nerve (SRA)

Not to be confused with Psychic Twins (that happened to me a lot with this), these guys feel as though they are transmitting from the beyond. This was probably the most pleasant surprise of the year and a I badly now need to go through their discography.

7. Honeyblood – Babes Never Day (FatCat)

Admittedly, I took this one from the list of Chicago music critic Jim DeRogatis. I had never heard of them but DeRo was right, as he is more often than not. More straightforward punk and less stark than Savages, with a bubblegum twist.

6. The Besnard Lakes – A Coliseum Complex Museum (Jagjaguwar)

Despite so many entries from Jagjaguwar (with one to go), that was not intentional. These guys are the first band I knew of from that label and this record is a step back in the right direction. This is my preferred band to accompany hallucinogenic drug-taking. Just say “yes”, kids. You’ll be fine.

 5. Preoccupations – Preoccupations (Jagjaguwar)

Not sure what the effect of changing their name from Viet Cong was but it seems to be serving them well.

 4. Dark Blue – Start of the World (12XU)

Somehow, John Sharkey is making better records than he did with Clockcleaner or Puerto Rico Flowers. Those were all fantastic so, needless to say, so is this.

 3. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree (Bad Seed Ltd.)

An album that is as sorrowful as David Bowie’s farewell, Blackstar, but (I really am sorry) far more listenable. Cave will break your heart in these songs but you’ll beg him to do it over and over again.

 2. Kristin Kontrol – X-Communicate (Sub Pop)

The Dum Dum Girls are no second rate act but this side project eclipses all of their work. Not the most innovative but the most irresistible pop record of the year.

 1. Angel Olsen – My Woman (Jagjaguwar)

This woman just never ceases to amaze me. She continues to evolve and up her game. It’s scary to think that she may not have reached the peak of her powers yet. Just a phenomenal talent. She even directs her own music videos, which are tremendous.

There you have it. Hopefully, I have helped you find your new favorite artist in here somewhere (no matter what you’re into). That’s what I’m here for, folks, to spread the love.

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I don’t want to be an angel (in German)

Posted: July 2, 2016 by The Social Retard in Music, Uncategorized
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Rammstein might not be a top five or ten fave band of all-time, maybe not even top 50. Four years later, though, I still consider this show a top 1o all-time show.
Rammstein - Made In Germany Tour
Rammstein at the United Center BlackstarBlackstarBlackstarBlackstarBlackstar (5/5/12)
Let me start by apologizing for the lack of pictures. I had camera issues. It is especially regretful due to the fact that this show assaulted all senses. I’ll do my best to paint a picture (with words). The stage itself was a mixture of steampunk and Joss Whedon’s Firefly. It was very, well, industrial looking – which makes sense. There was also a smaller platform in the middle of the stage where the band congregated while awaiting a walkway to lower from the ceiling. Once the walkway had fully descended, bassist Ollie Riedel (while carrying a torch) began the procession, leading each Rammstein member one by one toward the main stage, mimicking men entering battle. One carrying a Rammstein flag, another carrying an Illinois flag (didn’t know there was such a thing). With all of what would follow, this is quite apropos. Upon reaching the stage, Riedel lights a fire pit on each side. This is only the beginning of the pyrotechnics display, and a relatively tame beginning at that.

As this the “Made In Germany: 1995-2011” career retrospective tour, the setlist selections were stellar. The band launches into “Sonne,” from the amazing Mutter album. Six of the songs performed came from that record which was certainly pleasing. Each song had not only its own unique pyro, lighting, smoke, and explosive cues, but effects. No particular effect was used twice, at least not in the same place. There were moveable flame rigs, fans, and lights.

As a friend remarked, “If this was the toned down American show, what do they do in Europe?”. My guess would be actually set the band on fire. They came damn closed to doing it all night. It was obviously well choreographed and then it hit me. This isn’t just some metal concert. This is theater and these Germans suffer for their art. Frontman Till Lindemann and keyboardist Christian Lorenz carry a great deal of the load when it comes to the dramatic elements. Lorenz, for most of the night, wore a sparkly, silver sequined jumpsuit and walked on a treadmill behind the keyboards. He came down during “Mein Teil,” in a large smoking pot, playing his keyboard while sitting inside. He was greeted by a bloody butcher-looking Lindemann and a little friend – a freaking flamethrower!

Lindemann himself hardly gets off scot-free. Toward the end of “Wollte Ihr Das Bett In Flammen Sehen”, flames shot up through stage surrounding him. Sparks rain down heavy on him and he dodges several explosions and handles many large pieces of fire shooting apparatus. As if the sheer volume of the music weren’t enough, explosions went off periodically through the night. None of the senses went unscathed. Ears and eyes already stinging, you could feel the often towering infernos on your face, smelling and tasting the burning chemicals. It was glorious olfactory overload. Flaming mic stands, raining sparks, face rigs shooting flames, and finally a rocket launcher toward the end of “Du Hast,”. “Haifisch,” finished up round 1 at the main stage.

Lead guitarist Richard Kruspe manned a keyboard on the platform that the band made their entrance from. The rest of the band crossed the once again lowered bridge from the main stage in S&M gear complete with gags. They were being whipped by drummer Christoph Schneider. They all piled onto this smaller platform for raucous performances of “Bück Dich” and “Mann Gegan Mann,”. The crowd got into the pyro act a bit as the lighters came out during “Ohne Dich,”.

After a brief reprieve, Rammstein returned to the stage and roared through “Mein Herz Brennt,”. That was followed up by the red, white, and blue confetti decorated “Amerika,”. Another short break followed and then the band was back out for one more round. Lindemann emerges from below the drum kit wearing large, retractable metal angel wings that, guess what? Shoot fire and sparks! The result is a truly memorable rendition of “Engel,”.

I can honestly say that I have never seen anything quite like this and may never again. But I’m sure as heck going to try. An all-time great show. I, and the Allstate Arena, will never be the same.

Setlist:
Sonne
Wollte Ihr Das Bett In Flammen Sehen
Keine Lust
Sehnsucht
Asche Zu Asche
Feuer Frei!
Mutter
Mein Teil
Links 234
Du Hast
Haifisch
Bück Dich
Mann Gegan Mann
Ohne Dich

First Encore:
Mein Herz Brennt
Amerika

Second Encore:
Ich Will
Engel
Pussy

Slowly fading all away, but still Reatarded

Posted: July 2, 2016 by The Social Retard in Movies, Music
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Even though this was written a year before, consider it an addendum to the earlier post about Jay Reatard. This is my review of the documentary of the aforementioned prolific artist.

Jay

Better Than Something BlackstarBlackstarBlackstarBlackstar1/2 (4/12/12)

A raucous performance (as if there was any other kind) of “Oh It’s Such A Shame,” by Jay Reatard and band in France opens Better Than Something with a bang. This is followed by excerpts and remembrances from the 2010 South By Southwest tribute show. The format of the documentary is a bit off putting as footage of Jay in 2009 is juxtaposed with comments from fellow musicians and friends recorded less than a year later, after his death. There’s also plenty of archival footage of performances with the Lost Sounds, Angry Angles, and the Reatards. While Jay obviously didn’t enjoy doing press, the footage of him at his home show the notorious perfectionist and cantankerous personality in a relaxed and affable light. He oozes enthusiasm whether talking about record collecting or even recalling a horrific childhood tale that inspired the Lost Sounds’ “1620 Echols St.”.

Though mostly reflective, Jay makes his views of music and the lifestyle a career music demands. He speaks candidly about his self-destructive impulses, needing to “destroy my whole life just to build it back up”. Particularly amusing is Jay’s constant music evolution as a means to avoid complacency. He compares punk rock to wrestling and his embarrassment that he was nearly thirty and still referred to as a Reatard. He didn’t want to end up like 1980’s pro wrestlers Jake “The Snake” Roberts* or Koko B. Ware ending up “smoking crack in a Ramada”.

There are plenty of interesting tidbits revealed in the doc. He had planned to one day release a country album under his real name. Jay was buried next to Isaac Hayes, thereby making that cemetery the coolest ever. He made music because he was “afraid of everything else”.

This isn’t The Decline Of Western Civilization. It’s not a cautionary tale. It’s not Sid & Nancy, a glamorization of punk lifestyle and drugs. Better Than Something is a unique celebration of this prolific and truly gifted artist. What makes this film special is the rare opportunity to chronicle an emerging punk rock artist on his ride to stardom only for him to fall and never live to see his legendary potential. We see him at the beginning of his creative apex in almost real time. Then again, each subsequent Jay Reatard release sounded more and more special; it’s hard to argue that there wasn’t even more amazing music to come. Filmmakers Alex Hammond and Ian Markiewicz were certainly in right place at the right time. And while we can all agree that we wish the narrative had different ending, they did a great job of adjusting to the circumstances. They documented Jay Reatard’s music as his music documented his life.

*=2016 footnote: You should also check out the Jake “the Snake” documentary: The Resurrection of Jake the Snake.

The unlimited potential that is Angel Olsen

Posted: July 2, 2016 by The Social Retard in Music, Uncategorized
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So, listen. I had been writing for a website on and off for five years for little to no compensation. I just received word that they are ceasing to be and I don’t wish to see all of my writings disappear. Therefore, I will be dispersing the pieces all willy nilly across WordPress. The first entry is a series of reviews I have written about indie singer-songwriter Angel Olsen.

Strange Cacti EP BlackstarBlackstarBlackstarBlackstarBlackstar (4/7/11)

Strange Cacti opens like the beginning of a dream. Local folk artist Angel Olsen‘s voice joins the harp-like finger-picking and it is haunting and arresting. It pierces the din of the reverb-heavy recording with captivating precision. Her heart is clearly on her sleeve and slipping down to the floor. With each track, we are allowed a glimpse into a world of heartbreak and honesty, confessions from a journal set to music and shared with whoever dares to hear them. Each song is stripped down to the barest essentials: a woman, her guitar, and her soul. Her voice quivers on occasion, succumbing to the emotion and showing her vulnerability. The first five songs tell the tale of a woman wronged but with the closer, “Creator, Destroyer”, at last imbues our protagonist with the strength to seek answers for why she was so easily cast aside and confess her hurt to the one responsible. Anyone that has ever been dealt betrayal at the cold hand of a loved one will find a part of themselves in this EP that maybe they aren’t so eager to revisit. Olsen has captured that uncomfortable feeling beautifully in wax and it sends shivers down the listener’s spine. Allow yourself to get lost in the moment and marvel at Olsen’s craftsmanship.

Half Way Home BlackstarBlackstarBlackstarBlackstar1/2 (8/8/12)

Coming off of her phenomenal debut EP, Strange Cacti, Angel Olsen’s first LP has some lofty expectations to live up to. The album, titled Half Way Home, is a far more diverse effort than the EP, which is to be expected when extending out to a full-length. If the record is any indication of the woman, Olsen is an old soul. At the very least, her songs are informed from an era long before her time. A track that has been circulation on the web a while is “The Waiting”, a reasonable request for some effort from the other half of the relationship, all the while realizing that could be the proverbial long wait for a train that never comes. Sometimes a lady needs to be wooed a bit and for the man “to be the one to call”. “Lonely Universe” is a poignant seven-plus minute cautionary tale of how one’s existence can be full of regret when they don’t make the first step toward going after what/who they want, to not just dream but visualize and achieve.

Another familiar track, “Always Half Strange”, keeps its original simple but effective approach with Olsen’s trademark yodel in full throat. “You Are Song” keeps things stripped down and lovely. “Miranda Rights Revisited” is a country parable with storytelling reminiscent of Johnny Cash, a tale of love versus duty and Olsen’s voice lends the conflict its proper gravitas. As a counter-point to the rest of her work thus far, “Free” is the album’s most soaring and wonderful declaration of, and belief in, love. Olsen’s strength has generally been keeping things uncomplicated in arrangement, creating the necessary intimacy needed for the listener to focus on every somber syllable. But with “Free” and its sixties pop arrangement, she actually heightens the emotional tether and reaches a goosebump-inducing fever pitch. To put a final eclectic stamp on the album, Half Way Home closes with an R&B ballad, “Tiniest Seed”, complete with Cropper-esque guitars. With this debut album, Angel Olsen cements a reputation as a skilled and soulful siren with heartstring-tugging songs.

Live at Lincoln Hall BlackstarBlackstarBlackstarBlackstarBlackstar (8/16/13)

Angel Olsen is magic. Her performances are spellbinding and her onstage banter is bewitching, if not awkward and entirely preoccupied with Twix. Having spent the last few years in Chicago, Olsen has gained popularity swiftly. This year, she scored a coveted slot at the Pitchfork Music Festival. Alas, her time in the Windy City is coming to a close as she embarks on the next stage of her rapidly ascending career.

The first stop on her current tour was essentially her farewell to the city at Lincoln Hall. As she and her band took stage, you could tell that she was amongst friends in the intimate setting of the extremely clear sounding venue. The set began with, perhaps, the best track off of her one and only LP, last year’s Half Way Home. “Free” is just one example of how she has grown as a songwriter since her absolute heartbreaker of a debut EP, Strange Cacti. Those releases, from Bathetic Records, are vastly different. The EP is extremely spartan as the performances contain nothing more than Olsen’s voice and finger-picked guitar played in what sounded like an abandoned church. The LP explored some blues aspects and had a much improved fidelity.

In addition to her charmingly uncomfortable anecdotes about Neil Young’s On the Beach and a couple in the park “devouring tacos”, she is an adept storyteller as is evidenced on “Miranda”. The concert finished up with Olsen sans backing band. Admittedly “killing time” between songs, you could tell that some people didn’t quite understand what was going on as she occasionally went into hysterics, struggling to compose herself. When she did, she gave the crowd what they wanted, “Creator, Destroyer” but had to finish with a different number because she didn’t want to go out on that note. The song itself is amazing but the tone of it being the finale would have severely undercut the overall performance.

The show consisted largely of new songs that have been recorded and due to be released on Jagjaguwar, to whom she has recently signed, as well as the A-side to her most rocking release to date, “Sleepwalker”. The earlier songs were sad and sometimes angry whereas there is an immense effulgence to the new batch. Her talent knows no limits and no genre can contain her. The one thing in common with all of her songs is that her heart stays adorned on her sleeve with a Twix hanging out of the jacket pocket. Olsen may have outgrown our fair city but she is certainly welcome back whenever she likes.

Burn Your Fire for No Witness BlackstarBlackstarBlackstarBlackstarBlackstar (1/28/14)

After writing three complementary reviews, superlatives about songstress Angel Olsen are running short. Not that they aren’t deserving but the constant gushing about how talented Olsen is probably doesn’t come across as terribly interesting. Well, sorry, but she’s done it again. With already a stunning EP and outstanding full-length to her credit, Olsen manages to outdo herself. With her first release, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, on new label Jagjaguwar, Olsen serves up her most diverse work to-date.

Familiar folk territory is where Olsen has made her bones and is still a big part of the record. But it’s the translation of her folk sensibilities to a more rock milieu that prove to be even more remarkable.”Forgiven/Forgotten” is elevated garage rock tinged with sweetness. “Stars” packs a pair of powerful crescendos where her band swells and Olsen sings in self-harmony. The first peak at the 1:12 mark is goosebump-inducing.

Not that Olsen has suddenly become a garage punk. The softer side rears its beautiful head all over the album. Tracks like the evocative “White Fire” and “Unfucktheworld” carry the acoustic torch. “Lights Out” and “Dance Slow Decades” are empirically entrancing tracks that remind favorably of Marianne Faithfull. Remember the goosebumps from earlier? They recur at the first hint of Olsen’s voice on the record’s denouement, “Windows”. A more gorgeous song simply doesn’t exist. The music puts a figurative spotlight on its creator. Her voice comes across gentle and yet powerful, a beam of luminescence that answers the track’s pressing question, “What so wrong with the light?”. Not a damned thing.

There it is, the first entry. Hope you enjoyed.

When great bands write stupid songs: Get On Your Boots

Posted: June 28, 2014 by generationgbooks in Music
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2009_-_Get_On_Your_Boots_Cds

U2 have always been one of my favorite bands. Just because I join the ranks of the rational folks who now belittle Bono and his political bucking bronco that he can’t get off of, does not mean that I don’t still appreciate that he and his band have brought so many great songs and memories to the masses. They are a great band, although I can’t say that of anything that they have released in the past ten years. Ten years is a long time. This bit of music that I’m writing about? I believe that’s when reality sunk its fangs into me and I realized that the suck had set in. I am not alone in questioning whether Bono is so busy mingling with the free world that he quit concentrating on his craft. I think it’s obvious, and if you go back and examine timelines, it all began, in ridiculous earnest, around the time that How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb came out. U2 hasn’t delivered a solid album in over a decade. In a thousand years I never would have expected the following song to ever be written, much less recorded, AND released as the first single off of a new U2 album. What’s the problem, you say? Let’s take a look.

Future needs a big kiss
Winds blow with a twist
Never seen a move like this
Can you see it too

Maybe the first four lines were written after watching Step Up, the Channing Tatum/Jenna Dewan movie from 2006? If you’re watching the movie, then yes, you are seeing it too. The future didn’t need a big kiss, though, as Tatum and Dewan spent a good portion of that movie sucking face. Winds blowing with a twist? Maybe Bono witnessed a juice tornado in the Serengeti?

Night is falling everywhere
Rockets hit the funfair
Satan loves a bomb scare
But it won’t scare you

Night does indeed fall everywhere. Rockets hit the funfair? Where is this funfair that is being held at night? If it’s in a country in the Middle East and they’re holding a funfair at night, when rebels and terrorists usually strike more, then they’re kind of asking for it? Satan loves a bomb scare. But it won’t scare you. Well, if you’re a human being, a fucking bomb scare would scare the shit out of you. Maybe this is a Johnny Mnemonic type situation? Therefore, they aren’t scared? I was plenty scared by these lyrics. The chorus? Oh yeah, that chorus.

Hey…Sexy Boots
Get on your Boots
Yeah…

What the fuck? Sexy boots? There’s a chance that a bomb is going off somewhere and you’re worried about seeing some girl put on sexy boots? Why would you identify a girl’s attractiveness by her boots? I can see if she’s stripping in a club somewhere and wearing next to nothing but thigh high boots, but in a potential war zone? On the battlefield? In a war torn field? In God’s Country? Makes no damn sense. Unless Bono means a man, and then we have a whole different dynamic, but one that still makes no sense. It also makes no sense, if he’s trying to set the scene to that of a battle zone. Who cares about seeing some bitch in sexy boots if you might step on a landmine and be blown to bits at any time? Make love, not war is taking it a bit far. Then the obligatory “Yeah”… you need to assert what you just said? Not very sure of yourself, War Zone Lothario.

Free me from the dark dream
Candy bars, ice cream
All the kids are screaming but the ghosts aren’t real

Free me from a dark dream of candy bars and ice cream? No way, Jose. I would remain in that dream forever. Unless he means dark chocolate? I would never leave! Is this Bono’s way of saying he likes milk chocolate, not dark chocolate? What does dreaming of chocolate have to do with anything? All the kids are screaming but the ghosts aren’t real. Kids might be screaming for candy bars and ice cream, but that’s not something bad, usually. The ghosts? Maybe they’re having dreams of the ghosts in Pac-Man? That would scare anyone who grew up inside the 1980’s Pac-Man universe (hand raised). The ghosts of the dentist hovering nearby with a drill to stop them from eating all that sugar? The ghosts of Boo-Berry cereal? Cereal and war and boots. Makes perfect sense to..well, U2.

Here’s what you gotta be
Love & community
Laughter is eternity if the joy is real

If you stand together, united in your hatred of dark chocolate, you will laugh forever. If the rockets don’t get you first. Nice message there, Bono Vox.

You don’t know how beautiful
You don’t know how beautiful
You are…
You don’t know
You get it do you
You don’t know
How beautiful you are…

Singing to the boots, the woman, or the candy bars and ice cream? No clear answers. Just a lot of worshipful questions masquerading as declarations. You don’t know. But you are. You don’t know. You get it don’t you? You don’t know. This is madness! How can any girl understand that back talk?

If someones into blowing up
We’re into growing up

I would hope you want to live and not be blown up.

Women are the future
All the big revelations
I’ve gotta submarine
You’ve got gasoline
I don’t wanna talk about wars between nations
Not right now

Women are the future- of big revelations. Like the commonly known; we’re all insane. I’ve gotta submarine, you’ve got gasoline. Come-on line? Kinky talk of mortar shells; I’m turned on, aren’t you? EEK! He doesn’t want to talk about wars between nations, not right now. Because he’d rather be discussing how women are insane and then lobbing gratuitous grenades of a supposedly sensual nature at the person wearing the boots. Nothing says sexy times like talk of submarines, gasoline, and a bomb scare.

Sexy Boots
Get on your Boots
Yeah…
Foxy boots

Whoa! Whoa! Stop the presses, Vicki Vale! Sexy just turned into foxy. Foxy Cleopatra? Foxy Brown? Boots..not babes. Go figure that out.

You don’t know how beautiful
You don’t know how beautiful
You are…
Sexy Boots
I don’t wanna talk about wars

You keep saying it, yet you keep singing these words. And likening sensual delights to warfare.

Let me in the sound
Let me in the sound
Let me in the sound
My God I’m going down
I don’t wanna drown now
Let me in the sound

That’s a lot of pleas to be let into the Sound. The Sound of Music? Already cast. Sound & Vision, one of the highlight’s of David Bowie’s 1977 masterpiece, Low? I wish we could all travel back in time to be in there, but alas, not happening. The Sound And The Fury, the classic novel by William Faulkner? Well, the lack of imaginative narrative in that novel does echo the narrative of this song, so perhaps. In context with the lyrics following, I will vote for Long Island Sound. Not to mention, it separates Long Island from Connecticut. I could see him swimming to save the Connecticut Chippies, an elitist group of Gulfstream obsessed yuppies. Couldn’t you? And yes, Bono, if you swim for the Chippies, you are likely going to drown. Of course he doesn’t want to drown now, because how can he jet all over the globe, saving millions from suffering without milk chocolate? And foxy boots? He can’t, yet he begs to be let into Long Island Sound, which may lead to his drowning. What the fuck, Bono? What the fuck?

Let me in the sound
Let me in the sound
Let me in the sound
Get on your Boots
Get on your Boots
Yeah…

I guess the narrator of the piece wants to drown. While watching this girl get on her sexy, no, foxy boots. I hope he isn’t singing this while putting on his sexy, no, foxy boots, because that will definitely result in him drowning. In the sound. In the sound. In the sound. I have no fucking idea.

U2, as I stated, one of my favorite bands. Until the past ten years. No Line on The Horizon is absolute shit. I liked Magnificent for about five minutes, but that, too, did pass. I had Matt Foo make a copy for me, because I refused to pay for the album based on this monstrosity of a song. I love vinyl and music, and I love U2 unequivocally, before the last decade. This song? According to multiple Google sources, it was inspired by Bono taking his family to France and seeing warplanes overhead. Did you get any of that from the lyrics cited above? I certainly didn’t. I witnessed a bunch of nonsensical lyrics coming from a band that brought us earth-shattering songs like “With Or Without You”, “You’re So Cruel”, “All I Want Is You”, among others. Listen to the earlier U2 and then listen to the last ten years. It’s enough to make you want to cry. Or drown. In the sound.

When great bands write stupid songs: Make Love Like a Man

Posted: June 26, 2014 by The Social Retard in Music
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R-2867671-1304776599I have mentioned here before of my love of Def Leppard. I may have moved on,  mostly, from hair bands and cock rock but this band has given me a lot of great memories. That being said, what the fuck is this song?

I am secure in my sexuality but back in 1992 (and now), this made me question singer Joe Elliott’s. The very first lines of this song also comprise the chorus. It goes as follows:

“Make love like a man/I’m a man/That’s what I am”

This is like Popeye trying to get Bluto to fuck him. “Make love like a man. I’m a man and that’s all that I am. I’m Popeye the butt pirate man”. I don’t actually care if this is some gay declaration but for a band that wanted everyone to believe they were a pack of pussy hounds, this certainly sodded that right up.

“All you girls ’round the world /Lookin’ for a guy who’s a real go-getter”

What? OK, yes, women tend to find successful men more attractive. This is a solid premise.

“Every guy grab a girl/Love her like a man, make her feel a lot better”

Not sure if this is misogynistic or weird role play. Am I to love her as if she were a man? Because that could get awkward.

“Don’t call me Gigolo/Don’t call me Casanova
Just call me on the phone/And baby come on over”

This reminds me of the 1989 movie, Loverboy, starring Patrick Dempsey. McQueesy is, at this point, a scrawny kid who is a pizza boy that somehow sexes up every cougar in town except his own mother.

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This is a terrible movie but one of those that I have improbably seen hundreds of time because of its early 90’s frequency on cable. If this is what the song is based on, I almost have to forgive it. It’s like they were trying to squeeze a lump of coal into a diamond only to realize they were squeezing hardened dog shit. No diamonds in there.

We soon get to the full-fledged chorus:

“Make love like a man/I’m a man/That’s what I am, yeah
Make love like a man/Your kinda man/That’s what I am”

Maybe he isn’t asking his man for love. Maybe he’s only just realized that he himself is a man, and now he’s all excited. So, Elliott is going to make love like “your” kinda man because he doesn’t have his own style. He’s just going to plop himself down and wait for instructions. “Casanova”, I think not.

“Every day, every night/Take her little heart ’til it beats like a hammer
Do it good, do it right/Crazy little girl gonna stutter ‘n’ stammer”

Classy now he’s looking for a girl with a cardiopulmonary condition and a speech impediment. He definitely knows what he likes. Is he lowering his standards so this girl will be extra appreciative and not particularly discerning?

Then comes a bridge that seems shoe-horned in like a left-over or outtake that they could never figure out what to do with:

“Gimme some rock ‘n’ roll/Little bit of rock ‘n’ roll
It’s gotta be rock ‘n’ roll/Little bit of rock ‘n’ roll”

What in the hell does this have to do with anything? You guys are a rock ‘n’ roll fucking band! Make it yourself.

“A little bit of love goes a long, long way/Gotta get it on if you really wanna get her
Never ever wait it’s a little to late/Love her like a man, make her feel a lot better”

Angina Lispnagle also needs to overlook a tiny dick. But, quick, stick it in her before she knows what hit her. Which isn’t much.

The song mercifully comes to a close amid a multi-tracked chorus hodgepodge reinforcing the general mission statement of the song Read into it what you will. I don’t understand it. But we are left with these isolated words of wisdom:

“You love her like a man/She’s gonna feel a lot better”

Wait for it…

“And that’s a fact”

Followed immediately with a bent mini riff that sounds like a boner popping up.

For all of the pomp and shine on Def Leppard’s discography, I never felt totally devolved listening to their music until this song. I was 13 when this came out and I knew it was shit then. Here’s the sad part. I own this 7″. I bought it 12/20/10 at Remember When in Westmont for $3. If this is such a crime against music, why did I buy it? Because the b-side “Miss You in a Heartbeat” is a good song if you’re a big sap, which I am on occasion. It is the only known occurrence of the song being released on wax and a collector collects. Make purchases like a collector. I’m a collector. That’s what I am, yeah.

 

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I’m not going to front on you guys. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that, when I was 15, I knew everything there was to know about hardcore punk. I didn’t know shit. The first album from SST that I heard was the Minutemen’s Double Nickels on the Dime. Good start, for sure, but Black Flag was still just an insect repellant to me. The summer of 1994, Henry Rollins’s mug was everywhere. He may have been a punk rock pioneer but to me and my friends, he was the “Liar” guy.

That video and song were fucking awesome. I bought Weight on CD and the album version of “Liar” was even longer. There are other great moments too, like “Civilized” with its little funky interlude about guns. It’s a great album to just start yelling phrases that don’t necessarily go together. I still relate to “Disconnect” as people sicken me. It’s even more poignant now as technology has made the world so much smaller. “Liar” is still the crown jewel though. This would only be the beginning, though.

Henry showed up in the awesomely awful movie The Chase with Charlie Sheen and O.B. (Original Buffy) Kristy Swanson. I know this movie sucks but it entertains me to no end. If it was on now, I’d watch it. Not just for Henry, admittedly, as Swanson was way hot and Carlos Estevez had yet to go all Tiger Blood on us. I then started watching any movie that Rollins was in. Most of the time, this was a mistake but I blame Keanu Reeves for Johnny Mneumonic.

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Along the way, I kept buying Rollins Band CDs and they were decent. I bought his Black Flag stuff but, like most, I prefer the Keith Morris stuff. Henry’s finest musical moment is his collection of two solo EPs: Hot Animal Machine and Drive By Shooting (credited to Henrietta Collins & the Wifebeating Childhaters). Some really great tracks on those but none top the superior-to-the-original cover of Wire’s “Ex-Lion Tamer”. The original version is fine but Henry’s take is, obviously, more aggressive and it suits the song. I, sacrilegiously, like the vocals themselves better. I’m also pretty sure he screwed up the lyrics to the track’s benefit.

See, that’s another reason why Henry Rollins is so great. He’s chiefly important because he is the gateway to a lot of cool music. He was the first introduction to Bad Brains after he sang a cover of the MC5’s classic “Kick Out the Jams” with them. Shit, that was the first exposure to the MC5 too. He’s such an abashed fan that any band he became involved with or talked about was worth a listen.

When he had his talk show on IFC, that was the first time I had seen Slayer perform. I always felt wrong for listening to them because of all of the pentagram stuff. I had written them off in my mind even though I had mostly shed all that baggage by that point. They played “Cult” from their then-latest album Christ Illusion. In a serendipitous moment, this happened to be their best album in 12 years and, here, I was lucky to catch them at that time. I hadn’t seen anything such a powerful performance by any band on television.

With no new music from Henry, I still try to catch what he does. I’ve gotten a few of his books and have loved some of his spoken-word albums, especially Provoked. The last time I bought anything by him was a couple of years ago at the Chicagoland Record Show at the Hillside Holiday Inn, site of the Atomizer showdown with hipster douchebag. As soon as you walk in, there’s a vendor in the corner on the left who has a shit ton of 90’s vinyl. The 90’s bands loved vinyl but record companies didn’t, so runs were really limited. I managed to score Weight for $12. It has a little bit of a skip in it but not during “Liar”, so no big deal. Anyone know where I can find the Drive By Shooting EP on wax?

 

Going Down with The Gutter Twins and Saturnalia

Posted: June 7, 2014 by generationgbooks in Music
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The Afghan Whigs hold a special place in my heart of musical hearts. No, it doesn’t just involve that swaggering, chain-smoking lead singer Greg Dulli (I like them tall, dark, and troubled). It doesn’t involve any one time period in my life or one particularly bad relationship, rather they are the one band that I listen to that embraces the dark, seedier side of things that hide in the bushes of one’s troubled subconscious. For every Duran Duran that litters that vinyl record player, there’s an Afghan Whig or a Greg Dulli side project that’s sitting in its plastic waiting to be unleashed. The Whigs never fail to stir up the creative side. Often they stir up dark, submerged memories that should be left thousands of feet underwater. Often, more often than not, they make me turn that radio up higher and try to figure out what makes Mr. Greg Dulli tick. More and more lately, I have turned to their records in an attempt to find my fountain of inspiration, which has left me arid in the middle of deserted cacti. Do To The Beast is incredible, by the way. Not just good, or okay. Incredible. It’s the type of record that should be played when you are sitting alone in the middle of the night, unable to sleep, unable to dream, unable to write, unable to be, well, anything. At least you’ll have one hell of a soundtrack to put some wrappers in your brain, things that may later give birth to incredible outbursts of creativity, or at least make you pay heed to what’s rustling around in the attic. This latest album has inspired me to head back into the catalog of Whigs and Co. material. I went on a mission to find all of the vinyl. First I found the CD for Saturnalia, then I went through two more boxes of stuff and found the vinyl. What the hell are the Gutter Twins? Well, friends, let me give you a small history lesson.

Also, not to shortlist the other talented part of The Gutter Twins, Mr. Mark Lanegan. Mark Lanegan spent sixteen years as lead singer and visionary of the band Screaming Trees. After the band ended in 2000, he went on his merry way, doing anything from solo records to guesting on prominent band albums (mostly Queens of the Stone Age), to side projects with notable musicians. He and Dulli began this collaboration in 2003. I have a lot of Lanegan’s music as well, solo and Screaming Trees, and he doesn’t disappoint. Put the two together and albums like Saturnalia are born. The duo worked on it over the next five years, and it finally found its release on March 4, 2008 (time of Pisces. Go figure the dark, brooding nature of parts of this album).

Sadly, I didn’t connect with Saturnalia until August of 2008. Duran Duran’s Red Carpet Massacre had been released in November of 2007, and distractions of that nature took a while for me to get past. I was also, to great regret, re-igniting that long snuffed out torch known as the ten-year error in judgment. I was, for the second time in my ten years loving the wrong individual, “The Other Woman”. No, the romper room fruit plate gifting fool wasn’t married, but was in a committed relationship with one woman, and carrying on with me behind her back. Am I proud of both lapses in judgment? No, definitely not. However, you don’t learn to move on and past things if you aren’t shat upon repeatedly by the same bird of prey. I finally woke the fuck up, and when it did happen, it was ugly. And the soundtrack to this happenstance? The Gutter Twins Saturnalia.

As I have said with previous albums, it’s hard for me to pick favorites on some of the vinyl I own. This would be one of those occurrences. The time, nor the place, really matter because every single time I listen to it, a new bevy of emotions threaten to consume me as Mount Vesuvius did Pompeii. It doesn’t matter what sort of mood you’re in when you put this record on, or what sort of calamity may have befallen you on that day, but you’re going down when you put this record on. It’s a cathartic experience. It’s one that should be experienced, repeatedly. It’s worth owning the vinyl, the CD, and if it exists (I am not certain if it does), on cassette. Because that’s how you roll with music you really love; any and all formats are appreciated and should be owned.

About that vinyl. I got it on Alabamazon from an independent seller for $14.02. It came in the mail trashed. I filed a complaint and got a refund. I couldn’t play the fucking thing; it was scratched worse than Clinton’s nut sack after Lewinsky got done. The second vinyl I ordered came in pristine condition, but broken. In two. Thanks, UPS, you can suck it. We had a UPS driver in Willow Springs who liked to throw any and all boxes on top of the staircase. I lost plenty of vinyl over the years from that fucker. The third time was, thankfully, the charm. I finally gave up on ordering it online, and I hit Musicland in Chicago Ridge Mall looking for it. Steven Joseph of the Mataros Mafioso (LCP) was managing it, and gave me the old stink eye when I told him I was looking for that on vinyl. That motherfucker wouldn’t order a jazz record if you asked him, unless you gave a shout out to his favorite “singer” of all time, Ms. Sheryl Crow. I waxed some bullshit about how “Everyday Is A Winding Road” changed my karmic outlook toward world peace and manure piles, and he ordered it. Since it was a “special order”, it took almost a month to come in, but the rejoicing was mine when I picked it up. I believe a special celebration was in store that evening: me, myself, the gentlemen Lanegan and Dulli, and a bottle of Southern Comfort. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Synchronicity by The Police

Posted: April 25, 2014 by generationgbooks in Music
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I really cannot stand Sting. That disclaimer should be put out there right away, in case I make some comment of him in this post that gives away the fact that he is offal. And awful. But I guess the lesson here at least for me was that even the most offal artists are sometimes capable of putting out truly fantastic music. The fact remains that high tensions and divided nations within bands often yield undeniable genius (witness Fleetwood Mac and the tumult that brought us Rumours) in the sonic temple. Such is the case with 1983’s Synchronicity by The Police.

Synchronicity was released in June of 1983. It was a heady time in music and pop culture, at least for me. I was 10, and impressionable. The impression that Every Breath You Take had on me was instant. Instant dislike. Likely, as you have read me referencing many times before, due to my mom overplaying the hell out of the song. She told me that it was a love song. That made me dislike it more. I remember one conversation where she said it would make a great “wedding song.” If you are marrying one of my exes, maybe. I just didn’t dig the moody vibe. It does get under your skin and in your subconscious, and it was a smash for The Police, but I could still live the rest of my life without that song. However, it wouldn’t have been a great album without it. This is such a unique album from start to finish, and the sum is greater than the parts, but you can’t argue with the staying power that Every Breath You Take has. The next single, Wrapped Around Your Finger, was more instant. Love at first listen. The video- even better. Sting dancing and doing whatever fucking stu-rate (stupid karate) move he was doing (disclaimer: I am not dissing karate, just Sting doing karate), among all the candles. I can’t tell you the number of times that my brother and I yelled at the TV “Set yourself on fire”. I love the song. Synchronicity II was next released, and if there is a favorite on this album, this is it. The video rocks is awesome (and again, hopes for Sting to fall to his demise were oft heard in suburban Willow Springs). The last single released was King Of Pain. Another favorite. I don’t think they did a video for that one, which is unfortunate for I would love to see what His Stingness came up with for that. Start to finish, a fantastic album, even with the oddity that was “Mother”. That’s a song that gets true eyebrow raising at the store when it comes on. I would recommend listening to that one at a much lower volume. Stung’s shrieking is right up there with Yoko’s primal screaming in all of her solo work. If the United States ever needs to drive armed forces out in a crisis situation, they can bookend “Mother” and all of Yoko’s “singing” to do the trick.

Synchronicity was inspired by Arthur Koestler’s book The Roots of Coincedence. Jung’s Synchronicity is a reference point for Koestler’s book. Sting, of course, was the one reading these doorstops of philosophy, and that’s what influenced the entire album. The Roots of Coincedence is a work that relies heavily on parapsychology, telekinesis, and extra sensory perception. In other words, my final term paper for my high school psychology class (and the only thing that saved me from a resounding “D” in the course). Of course I was going to like an album based around some of these themes. Of course, I didn’t know all of that back story for jack shit when I was 10, but it’s never too late to figure it out when you’re in your thirties. Interesting to also know that Schwing was inspired by another work the Koestler did earlier in The Police’s span, and that brought about Ghost In The Machine, their album before Synchronicity. Isn’t your life more enriched by knowing that? Mine neither, but it did spin a great album.

Let’s talk about the vinyl. I acquired it sometime in 1988, when Nerfy (first job knob) and I took a trip through downtown Lagrange, and I found Beautiful Day RecordsThat place was wholly responsible for my vinyl addiction. Nerfy thought he could make up missing our first dinner date to watch a Packers game by taking me “out on the town”. For those familiar, downtown Lagrange is NOT “out on the town”. But to a couple of 15 year olds, I guess it was alright. That’s how I discovered Beautiful Day. He was pissed because I was in there over two hours, while he wanted to go check out the toy store and the sports memorabilia. (Note: ever get stuck in a sports jersey shop for three hours with someone who almost pops a boner over a Don Majkowski jersey? Not recommended for the faint of heart). I was thrilled with the acquisition (the album, not the Packer fan). The cover shots are more in-depth, and it has a great gatefold sleeve. You get the complete lyrics also. I have the original one that I bought with Nerfy, and then I have the other one I picked up for $2.00 at the Chicagoland Record Show. The original one is a little sad for all the wear and tear I have put it through, so I keep the other one in plastic. It’s one of the few albums I do have two copies of, but it’s completely worth it. 

Is There Something I Should Know? Duran Duran 12″ Single

Posted: March 17, 2014 by generationgbooks in Music
Tags:

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I think every post I’ve done for Hannibal Collector has been about albums in their entirety. Since nothing makes me more happy than to write about Duran Duran and my writing seems to be stuck in a stall somewhere with Sarah Jessica Parker, well, it’s time to write about Duran Duran. And a vinyl 12″ single, as they were called in the good old days of vinyl across the land. These days, they have this bastard called the Internet. More on that another time, another blog.

I should clarify right off the bat, despite my obsession with Duran Duran, that I can objectively say that there are songs in their catalog that I don’t care for, just as there are ones that I cannot do without listening to on a regular basis. “Is There Something I Should Know?” is one of those songs. It’s also another song that has an interesting history attached to it.

Duran Duran’s first album was released in 1981. This song was not on it. I know; I own the original on vinyl. The original 1981 release has a drudgy song called “To The Shore”. “To The Shore”, for those unfamiliar, is a song that even Simon LeBon cannot remember what or whom he was writing about. My confused 10-year old self hated it on first listen, second listen, third listen. As I got older and moodier, I liked it a tad bit more. However, it is definitely and should definitely be a B-side, not an album track.  I used to fast forward through it on cassette. My mom hated it as much as I did. Then came MV50. One morning before school, after my brother and I were grooving to Eddy Grant’s video for “Electric Avenue” and trying to figure out how he got his hair like that (we were 10 and 9, remember), I heard a drum beat and “Please Please Tell Me Now”. My first viewing of that video. Immediate. Love at first listen. Then…confusion. What album was this song on? I had the two that were out, and this excellent song was on neither. Time for some homework. 

MTV had immediately jumped on the video, as they had jumped on the videos for “Hungry Like The Wolf” and “Rio” the year before. Of course, I had no idea, as we did not have MTV. Several of my classmates did, however, and gave me the 411. The VJ’s were saying it was on their first album Duran Duran. I ran home from school at the end of the day and checked both the cassette and the record, and neither had that song. “To The Shore”, unfortunately, had not majestically vanished and been replaced with “Is There Something I Should Know?”. What the fuck was going on? My little scattered 10-year old brain could not figure out this puzzle. Even MV50 when they played the video, had “Duran Duran” listed as the album the song was on. My mom and I decided that a trip to K-Mart and Venture was in the cards. I had amazing luck with Venture and Duran Duran of any kind. We went over and I yelled. There it was–but it was a whole new cover! What sort of fresh hell was this?

For the record, the original 1981 release of Duran Duran (with “To The Shore”):

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The re-released 1983 Duran Duran (with “Is There Something I Should Know?):

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You can see why I was confused. I flipped it and looked at the song list- my prayers to the Duran gods had been answered- “To The Shore” had been replaced with “Is There Something I Should Know?”. I told my mom that the dumb song was gone and the one that was in the video was on there. That was enough. She bought it for me, allowance notwithstanding. We went home and I just kept playing it over and over. It is an infinitely better song, and it worked so much better with the context and flow of the album than “To The Shore”. I don’t think it would have fit well on “Rio” , and Capitol obviously agreed, so they tossed it on this album. Or maybe, maybe, maybe, they knew it would revive interest and sales in the first album, since Rio was a runaway smash. Who knows? I was just glad that the sludge song (I was doing parodies then. I had renamed it and re-wrote it as “To The Sludge”, as I was living in Willow Springs at the time, and sludge, unfortunately, was a consequence of living there) was gone. So I saved up my allowance and got the cassette of this reissue and then the 45 single of it. Why wasn’t I satisfied with just the one album? Die hard Duranies buy everything, format-wise if you can. Not to mention, prices back then- a steal. These days, it’ll set you back one or two utility bills, for most of us who are home owners and the breadwinners. That’s why I’m so glad I have so much vinyl from my glory days of childhood. It’s definitely an investment worth making.

Now that the history of what happened with the re-issue and the covers has been explained, onto the 12″ single. Heidi and I had been attending the Chicagoland Record Collectors show in Hillside for years, and I got ahold of a cassette titled “Duran Duran Rare Mixes”. There was, on this record, a mix of “Is There Something I Should Know?” called The Monster Mix. We popped it in the cassette player and cranked it. Love at first listen again. I love and hate mixes. I used to feel the original song had enough power that it should not be messed with. Then I started hearing mixes that churned out a whole new dynamic to so many of the songs that I did love, that I had to revise my earlier scorn of them. The same is true with Duran Duran. Some of them are fantastic (what Nile Rodgers did to “The Reflex” from the original on Seven and The Ragged Tiger, he should win the prize), and some are not (“The Violence Of Summer” mixes are a bit too much for me). This one was fantastic. It took another seven or eight trips, some with Heidi, some with Jennie, some with Disco Chuck, before I finally found the 12″ single. There was the original, the Monster Mix, and add to it the b-side of “Faith In This Colour”, both the slow and the fast versions. (Fast version is better, in my opinion), and you have a win all around. I remember paying more than I could afford, but sometimes its so worth it to spend the little extra to have something that gives you so much joy. In a moment of irony that could only shackle itself to me these days, the original release of the song was March 19, 1983- so we are two days away from the 31st anniversary of the release. I can’t think of a more fitting way to commemorate the occasion.