Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Are you HOT, MAMA?!?? You sure LOOK THAT WAY TO ME-EE-EEEE!!!

(Journey/Foreigner*/Night Ranger live at Verizon Wireless Clusterfuck  8/21/11 )

As an initial disclaimer, I shall not include any discussion of Mr. Humpy in this review-type-thing, as he isn't worthy of explanation.

I must admit that on my list of "bands I MUST see before I die", Night Ranger was...absent.  So it was with much dread at the impending arrival of "Sister Christian" that I turned my attention to the stage as the band (3/5 original members!!) sauntered onto the stage as if the '90s had never happened.  I admired their enthusiasm and energy, and the performance was rawkin' and very solid!  They played a REALLY good song ("Lay It On Me") from their new album and the two songs I wanted to hear ("Sing Me Away" and "Don’t Tell Me You Love Me") along with two, count 'em, Monster Ballads...including one that WASN'T EVEN THEIR SONG!!  Yep, they played "High Enough" by Damn Yankees, which singer Jack Blades was of course a part of, but still.  I guess I should be thankful that they didn't play "Secret of My Success" and shut the hell up. 

Night Ranger:

Lay It On Me
Sing Me Away
High Enough
When You Close Your Eyes
Don’t Tell Me You Love Me
Sister Christian
You Can Still Rock in America 

Mick Jones, original Foreigner member, was absent due to sickness, which left the current Foreigner line-up distressingly "original Foreigner member" free.  They were like one of those fruit drinks that has a disclaimer that says "contains no fruit juice".  In fact, they should either be referred to as "Foreigner" or Foreigner*  (*warning: contains no actual Foreigner).  Since the line-up boasted singer Kelly Hansen (SOLID on vocals!!)  -- from the hair band Hurricane -- and bassist Jeff Pilson -- from the hair band Dokken -- they could've laid more claim to either of those bands at that time.  But I digress, because, snarky line-up comments aside, Foreigner* ROCKED!!  I realized, when singing along to "Head Games" and "Hot Blooded" and all, that if one digs past the macho '70s ROCK GOD lyrics ("Can I LEAVE-YOU-MY-KEYYY!!") there are some fine chunks of rock to be had in the Foreigner* songbook.  Like "Double Vision".  And "Dirty White Boy". Especially "Dirty White Boy." For reference, Foreigner's* set also included two Monster Ballads in "Waiting For A Girl Like You" and "I Want To Know What Love Is" further proving that while one can certainly dig past cheese in quest of Powerful Rock Riffs, when there is nothing before you but cheese, then...let the middle-age housewifeyness begin!!  Anyway, to sum up, Kelly Hansen's vocals plus riffage equal goodly amounts of rock to be had.  Woulda been nice to have someone from Foreigner playing with Foreigner* though.


Double Vision
Head Games
Cold As Ice
Waiting For A Girl Like You
Dirty White Boy
Feels Like the First Time
I Wanna Know What Love Is
Hot Blooded

Jukebox Hero

Y'know, I was gonna write up a grand review of Journey's segment of the show, but hell, I'm just gonna keep it simple: after 30 years of loving the band without seeing them, Journey were breath-taking.  Theirs was a flawless, energetic, impassioned performance by a band that certainly seems to be re-energized by their new singer and renewed popularity (did I mention the venue was either sold out just a few tickets shy of it?).  And if you wouldn't be somehow invigorated, inspired and goosebumpy hearing however many thousand people singing "Don't Stop Believin'" in unison, you are too jaded, bitter, and cynical, and need to loosen up. 

And don't even give me any grief about Steve Perry. 


Separate Ways
Ask the Lonely
Send Her My Love
City of Hope
Stone in Love
Edge of the Moment
Wheel in the Sky
Open Arms
La Do Da
Be Good To Yourself
Any Way You Want It

Don’t Stop Believin’
Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


So earlier tonight, I was ruminating about my disgust for the political state of our country -- you know, the way the politicians bicker, feud, point fingers, and generally stick their tongues out at each other for the sake of their "parties", rather than trying to compromise for the good of the COUNTRY!!!!!! -- when it occurred to me:  we should HAVE no musical "guilty pleasures".

We all have them, right?  You might be a straightfoward Dave Matthews kinda person with a secret love of "Too Drunk to Fuck" by the Dead Kennedys.

Or, hell, a Dead Kennedys fan with a secret love of Dave Matthews. 

Anyway, what brought this to mind tonight was the Foo Fighters (as well as a discussion a few days ago with a friend).  I'm firmly convinced that Dave Grohl doesn't have "guilty pleasures".  He covered Gerry Rafferty's mid-'70s hit "Baker Street" (one of MY "guilty" songs, incidentally).  And not in a jokey "ironic" way, but with feeling (at least that's how I hear it).  Now I KNOW there was a lot of ironic covering in the '90s and '00s (ahem, "Smooth Criminal" anyone?).  And much of it fell flat, in my opinion, simply because there was so MUCH of it. 

But I digress.  I have just come to the opinion, at least in regards to my own musical tastes, that the "guilty" needs to be removed from "guilty pleasures".

Dig:  I have a CD of Barry Manilow's Greatest Hits.  It sits on my CD shelf in close proximity to Mayhem, the Mary Shelley Overdrive, Bob Marley, the Matadors, Magic Sam and Mastodon.  Now, in times past, I would winkingly admit to owning the Barry CD and further remark (as above) on its position in my "M" pantheon.

But wait: a Mayhem/Mastodon/etc. fan, Barry is a "guilty pleasure", yes?  So...if I'm a Barry Manilow fan -- someone that likes Barryesque music in general -- that happens to own "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas", wouldn't that make MAYHEM my "guilty pleasure"?

I just proclaimed my love for Journey in my previous post.  Surely they are a "guilty pleasure" to certain factions of my friends, but other compadres del Wolffe may proudly proclaim that Journey are the bee's knees.

Should I feel bad for some reason for liking this song....

....or this one.... the same time I like this one?

...or this one?

Anyway, I guess my point is, I have moved past thinking it's "cool" to like certain stuff.  Or "uncool".  I may disparage your like for that detestable Black Eyed Peas song (you know the one), but if it makes you happy, who the frak cares what I think, yes?  (This doesn't preclude me from pointing out that the song sucks, however.  I may have had a revelation, but I'm still an ass.)  If my iTunes jumps from Danko Jones (who I think is "cool") to Foreigner (who I thought were cool in 1977) to something I have ended up with in my playlist inadvertantly but have NEVER considered cool, such as this...

...well, that's just me and my questionable taste in music.  I used to try to impress people with it.  Hell, I guess I still try.  But it doesn't matter.  Like whatcha like; jam what you want.  Just listen to music, because if you don't have music in your soul, then you are SOULLESS, LIKE THE MASS OF SELF-SERVING, CHILDISH POLITICIANS.

(Comments?  Thoughts?)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Just a city boy....

So for my first actual blog post, I debated whether to tackle issues that concern me, such as the generally disfunctional state of society, or the horrendous way that we as Americans treat education, or my belief that the school year should be year-round, or...something like that. 

However, upon further rumination, I decided to write about...


Y'see, I was going through some archaic stuff that I had "liberated" from my Mom's house recently, and, running across my 1983 Journey wall calendar, I realized that the calendar year 1983 matches this year.  Weird eh?  And, investigating further, I noticed that, according to the handy notation on the calendar, tomorrow, July 1st, 2011, marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Journey's ESCAPE album.

ESCAPE...the one with "Don't Stop Believin'."

Thought that might ring a bell.

In 1981, I was ALL ABOUT Journey.  I would venture to say they were my first favorite band (this might be revisionist history, but I'm sticking by it).  I was 13 in 1981, and had been listening to them for awhile.  I already had some earlier 45s, and a couple of earlier albums in my burgeoning collection of LPs.  Anyway, I got ESCAPE right around the time it was released.  I remember being disappointed when I was looking at the liner notes and realized that they had changed keyboardists, because I really dug Gregg Rolie's vocals on previous records.  But, to me, at that point in time, the record was so incredibly stunningly awesome that I was quickly able to cope with the line-up change.  I had a t-shirt (wish I still had it, though I'm sure it would be more my daughter's size after three decades). I had posters of the album art. I doodled the bug spaceship from the cover all over my school notebooks. I practiced drawing the logo -- the band name is turned sideways and elongated, and the the album title is actually spelled out "E5C4P3".

I had the "Journey Escape" video game for my Atari 2600!!

I even made a stuffed felt christmas tree ornament of the bug ship in art class. 


(Someday I will find it and revel in its glory.)

Anyway, the other day, I listened to ESCAPE again while driving hither and yon.  Forty-three year-old me doesn't quite hold it in as high a regard as thirteen year-old me did, but it still moves me.  "Don't Stop Believin'" is, of course, a timeless song; it's an inspirational burst of pop-rock perfection that still resonates all these years and generations later.  The rest of the album -- I could do a play-by-play of the songs, but I won't -- hell, it's a great rock record.  Dated?  Sure.  Cheesy?  Perhaps, through jaded 21st Century Eyes.  Sing-along-able?  Catchy?  Well-crafted?  Yes, yes, and yes.  Radio-friendly?  Guilty.

Anyway, after ESCAPE, I got more "teen" and had discovered the glories of heavy metal (KILLERS and HIGH N' DRY and Priest and Rainbow and Sabbath and....) by the time Journey released FRONTIERS in '83.  It would have been impossible, methinks, for FRONTIERS to live up to ESCAPE for me, because the latter hit me at "that moment in time" (ahem...puberty?) and imbedded itself in my soul.  So I listened to FRONTIERS less, thought less of it, wasn't impressed by the "'80s-ness" of the album cover and Steve Perry's short hair.  I never even bought the next album, RAISED ON RADIO, and really didn't even think about them again until the mid-'90s when I got the CD boxed set.  The '90s reunion album TRIAL BY FIRE, well...I've listened to once.

I DID get excited when they picked a new singer (Steve Augeri) for 2001's ARRIVAL.  It was a vital, VERY good album, and it really renewed my interest in the band.  GENERATIONS flagged a bit, in my opinion, but was still solid.  I LOVE the two albums with new singer Arnel Pineda (REVELATIONS and ECLIPSE). 

Thirty years after ESCAPE, here I am, still caring enough to write about the band.   They may never have been "critical darlings", and they haven't garnered admission to the questionable ranks of the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame".  But that's immaterial to me.

I've added many bands to my "favorite bands" list since 1981, but Journey are still on the list, and certainly aren't scraping the bottom.