up; it almost spells ‘babbles’ and that’s how we’ll pronounce it, okay?
Quick jaunt through three songs you may not have heard, but should:
- “Deluxe War Baby” from the 2001 “Burning Airlines” album “Identikit” – formed four years before their name would become permanently politically incorrect, the band’s “Deluxe War Baby” is a fine example of what loud rock can achieve when it’s arranged well. Dynamics (as in using both loud AND soft) play a huge part, with the opening plunky sounding guitar and Dylanesque vocals eventually puncuated by crunchy drums, bass, and more guitars, just before the time signature switches to 3/4 time (yes, that’s a waltz.) This ain’t no waltz, though. When lead vocalist J. Robbins wails “Never have I felt so well policed; why should I be anything but pleased?” the discordant rumble of multi-layered guitars makes the sarcasm bite harder. Even if edgy rock isn’t your cup of whiskey, “Deluxe War Baby” is worth a listen. “We’re all headed west, whatever we think we believe . . .”
- “Rhinoceros” from the 1996 “Block” album “Lead Me Not Into Penn Station” – I like Jamie Block’s sense of humor. Lyrically and musically, it’s a fun song. “My lawyer said, ‘Hey Jamie, think poppy; think catchy’; okay . . .” A simple bass line alternating with sandpaper rhythym electric guitar and a not-too-difficult chorus (“Rhinoceros” [x4]) make this one of those catchy tunes you’ll find it difficult to put out of your head. Interesting jungle-fever-bird/chattering monkey guitar licks near the end. Also available on the “Blast from the Past” soundtrack, where it has some impressive company which we’ll discuss later.
- “Spiral” from the 2000 “Black Light Syndrome” album “Situation Dangerous” – Hmmmmm . . . where does one begin? Tony Levin (bassist for Peter Gabriel, Yes, King Crimson, Paul Simon, Carly Simon, Lucy Simon, Warren Zevon, Tom Waits, James Taylor, Livingston Taylor, Ringo Starr, Pink Floyd, Nanci Griffith, Judy Collins, and a bazillion others) joins Terry Bozzio (Missing Persons, Frank Zappa) and Steve Stevens (Billy Idol, grammy for “Top Gun”) to form a power trio not unlike a new millenium “Cream” with a twist. “Spiral” is not their usual black thunder, though. Beginning slowly, almost pensively, Stevens’ classical guitar becomes more and more complex and fiery, joined by ever intensifying percussion of every kind. Behind it all, swirling, dancing, now echoing, now countering, is Levin’s bass, never in the same place twice. A journey of epic proportion which never fails to bring a smile to my face; whether you love classical guitar, progressive rock, or something in between, I defy you not to be captivated.