Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Final Countdown

Europe - The Final Countdown - 1986

Picked up on the way out the door of the most recent edition of the DC Record Fair when VVer #2 jokingly coerced VVer #1 into buying it for the 80's box (to be explained in a later post...stay tuned).  "Come on ... it's got "The Final Countdown" on it!  One listen and get rid of it.  Plus just look at that cover!  For crying out loud, it's embossed!" ... Bwahahaha. Sucker.

Should the VVers not waste their time writing about any of the music on this one? Should you not waste your time reading this?  Enough with the doubting!  It really is easy to be won over by Europe and their antics once you take the plunge.  No surprises here; plenty of synths, fade-outs, and power ballads to match with their elegantly styled poufy coifs.  You get the gist.  Many "whoas" and "whoa-os" lace the upbeat tunes.  It is so much more than just the title track!  (kidding. maybe.)  Winding down the first side of this album is "Ninja" which might just be made for a little-known, crap-tastic movie from the 80s Miami Connection, which the VVers saw this summer at local theater, AFI Silver.  Curious?  Here's the plot:

A gang of motorcycle ninjas wreaking havoc across Orlando, Florida, Mark (writer/director and Tae Kwan Do master Y. K. Kim) and his rock band Dragon Sound decide to fight back. Roundhouse-kicking their way to justice, the band still finds time to chase beach bunnies and perform their hit song, "Against the Ninja."

Yes, it is ridiculous as it seems.  And you should watch it.  Kind of like listening to The Final Countdown on purpose.

Back to this masterpiece of an album... Most of side A, including the slow ballad "Carrie," are well put together.  It's a good listen.  Things go off the rails on side B where it seems the band throws everything at the wall with reckless abandon.  It hurts the ears.  Apparently one can only withstand a single side of the album before having a meltdown.  On a completely other week VVer #1 took the plunge into side B with some less pain inducing results.  First song "Cherokee" recalls the trail of tears and the plight of the American Indian, all set to the fist pumping rock of the 80's that Europe so effortlessly delivers to your spleen  Tis' mighty indeed.  "Hey VVer #1, I thought this blog was about this goofy album we own and we weren't actually going to write about the music!" [Apparently VVer #1 actually listened to the lyrics].  The remainder of the side is tolerable if you can manage it.  Final song "Love Chaser" is heavy and heavily dull.  The thunderous blare of lead guitar rockets in every which way proving that somebody at least plugged the thing in and went through the trouble of tuning it.  Still, there are more than a few moments of well intentioned riffage that remind us of Queen.  A good influence for a band that really lacks Freddie Mercury and could probably use a ton of Brian May.

So why write about this album?  As we have previously noted, we have a little, yappy dog that lives next door, that, whenever the neighbors leave, cries endlessly, which in turn, causes the VVer household to crank some music.  Upon playing The Final Countdown on a recent spin, the realization came, "Shhh! I think it put Fluffy to sleep!"  Total silence... excellent.  It must remain in our collection now... Bwahahahaa.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Rolling Record Store

Third Man Records' Rolling Record Store traveled to DC this past week and VVer #2 was lucky enough to visit it.  Not trying to over analyze this.  A record store on wheels.  SO COOL! Thank you Jack White, or whoever at your music label came up with this plan! What a great idea.

Third Man Records Truck conveniently parked next to the 9:30 Club in DC.
What exactly is a rolling record store?  Think food truck, but with records.  They even have a menu of the daily offerings!  VVer #2 was slick (and/or lucky) and asked for a record off the menu (gasp!) which they had.  The VVers have continually been haunted this past year by not being able to see the most recent Melvins tour.  First, they were in DC while the VVers were tying the knot, then they were in Baltimore for Deathfest while the VVers were also in Baltimore but not sure what they were doing, and lastly, they were back playing in DC while the VVers were traipsing around Milwaukee where again they were taunted by old concert posters of the tour stop in the beer-city a week prior.  Maybe the VVers should get their shit together...  Where is this going?  Well, it just so happens that the Melvins stopped at Third Man Records and recorded a direct-to-acetate show on May 30, 2013! As luck (or providence?) would have it, the rolling record store had the recording.  Score.  How is it?  Upon first and second listen: crushing and awesome.

Since the novelty of being at a record truck had not yet worn off (will it ever?), I also was quite easily talked into getting the new "record of the day" from Seasick Steve Hubcap Music.  Have I ever heard of him?  No.  My record truck cashier/driver man/boss dude in the window said that he sings the blues and is a guy that used to be homeless and made it huge in the UK.  Well, ok (truth or not), when else will I buying records from a truck in the near future?  Into the bag it went.  I must say that also after a first and second listen, the VVers are not disappointed.  There might have even been some head bobblin' and foot stompin' whilst spinning.  Up-tempo guitar and gnarly vocals give this a 80's metal meets The Black Keys kind of honky tonk country saloon vibe.  Credits go to Seasick Steve for "hollerin' and playing assorted junk string things."  Amongst other credits are an "old cast iron frying pan," "fretless gourd banjo," and Jack White III on a "stone cold solo guitar" on one of the tracks.  There's also some fella named John Paul Jones playing on a bunch of tracks.  You may have heard of him.  Other than the final tune which gets into a touch much gospel for this house, it's a winner.

Keep an eye for a yellow truck Rollin' n' Chooglin' through your city! Records!