Heavy Metal Bob Marley

I could hug every one of you motherfuckers right now. Andy Rehfeldt has a bunch of different covers in a variety of styles. You could get lost on his Youtube page.

Here’s a Call Me Maybe bonus, too. He’s actually got 10 different metal versions of Call Me Maybe, so maybe I’m burying the lede on this post, but the Is This Love is pretty great.

Via Stellar Interesting

Heavy Metal Bob Marley

Appetite for Destruction at 25

A couple weeks go, Guns n’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction celebrated its 25th birthday. I saw a bunch of articles worth sharing about the album and band. Who doesn’t love Appetite for Destruction?

5 years ago, Rolling Stone had a long write up on the making of Appetite.

Released on July 21st, 1987, Appetite for Destruction went on to sell well over 15 million copies in this country alone, becoming one of the best-selling debuts ever. The album looked both forward and backward: The punky rawness of its sound and the pained artistry of its lyrics made it a bridge between commercial Eighties hard rock and the alternative music of the next decade. But Appetite was also among the last classic rock records to be mastered with vinyl in mind, to be edited with a razor blade applied to two-inch tape, to be mixed by five people frantically pushing faders at a non-automated mixing board “We used classic instruments and classic amps,” says the album’s producer and engineer, Mike Clink, “Our approach was reminiscent of stuff that was done in the Sixties and early Seventies.” Adds assistant mixing engineer Deyglio, who earned a credit as “Victor ‘the fuckin’ engineer'” on the album: “It could almost be seen as the last of one of those types of records, from Layla to Abbey Road on down. It could be seen as the last great rock record made totally by hand.”

Drew Magary remembered his first time listening…

They sorted tapes according to chart position, and I remember being overjoyed whenever a tape I had purchased moved up on the rack. When Hysteria went to No. 1, I nearly lost my shit. They also had a section for new albums, and it was July 1987 when I went to the store and saw Appetite in the display case for the first time. I had never heard of Guns N’ Roses. I had never read anything about them or listened to any of their songs. All I had to judge them was that cover, with the five skulls laid out on a cross, each skull sporting it own distinct haircut. Skeletons are cooler when they have a full head of hair.

…And then asked some folks for their experiences, too.

Here’s why Appetite is awesome. Everything else I listen to from the eighties is so fucking dated that it might as well come with a picture of Joe Piscopo eating out a woman with a super hairy bush while driving Magnum’s Ferrari. Shit from that era is so laughable, hipsters wear it because of how ironic it is. NOBODY listens to Appetite ironically because it still kicks the shit out of almost everything today.

Billboard.com takes a look back at Appetite.

“Appetite for Destruction” introduced a band that anyone who loved rock’n’roll could agree on. The metal heads loved the aggression, the glam fans fawned over their looks, the punks aligned with their rebellion, and the purists savored their blues-based riffs. It also contributed iconic images to the lexicon (Rose’s head bandana, guitarist Slash’s top hat) and uncompromising, powerful songs that remain incredibly fresh. Nothing quite like “Appetite” has come along in the 25 years since it arrived. And that, folks, is why we’re stuck with Axl Rose for the rest of our lives.

Spin celebrates Appetite at 25 with the worst covers.

Stereogum looks back:

A group full of hard-partying Sunset Strip veterans who’d all done time on the L.A. pop-metal scene, led by an Indiana transplant that still thought of himself as some sort of off-the-bus hick delinquent and compensated accordingly. And that band happened to have both the ridiculous chops that the pop-metal scene required and a sort of alchemical, otherworldly chemistry that few other bands in history have ever displayed — one of the things that makes their quick dissolution so tragic. And that hick happened to have this sensitive sandpaper wail that sounded sensitive when it was trying to sound tough, and vice versa. That’s a deep and rare combination, and somehow it doesn’t come close to explaining how an album like this could happen.

Wikipedia, always helpful.

Rolling Stone has Appetite as the 27th best album of the 80s, and #62 all time, but there’s not a proper review anywhere. (THERE AREN’T ENOUGH STARS IN THE WORLD.)

Axl’s mugshot from when he was 18. This is a cool post.

Axl rose mugshot

Axl’s 1989 Playboy interview.

Here’s the real long Axl Rose GQ profile from 6 years ago that I’ve likely posted before.

Then he was there. And apologies to the nice woman, but people do not go that nuts when Bon Jovi appears. People were: Going. Nuts. He is not a tall man—I doubt even the heels of his boots (red leather) put him at over five feet ten. He walked toward us with stalking, cartoonish pugnaciousness. I feel like all anybody talks about with Axl anymore is his strange new appearance, but it is hard to get past the unusual impression he makes. To me he looks like he’s wearing an Axl Rose mask. He looks like a man I saw eating by himself at a truck stop in Monteagle, Tennessee, at two o’clock in the morning about twelve years ago. He looks increasingly like the albino reggae legend Yellowman. His mane evokes a gathering of strawberry red intricately braided hempen fibers, the sharply twisted ends of which have been punched, individually, a half inch into his scalp. His chest hair is the color of a new penny. With the wasp-man sunglasses and the braids and the goatee, he reminds one of the monster in Predator, or of that monster’s wife on its home planet. When he first came onto the scene, he often looked, in photographs, like a beautiful, slender, redheaded 20-year-old girl. I hope the magazine will run a picture of him from about 1988 so the foregoing will seem a slightly less creepy observation and the fundamental spade-called-spade exactitude of it will be laid bare. But if not, I stand by it. Now he has thickened through the middle—muscly thickness, not the lard-ass thickness of some years back. He grabs his package tightly, and his package is huge. Only reporting. Now he plants his feet apart. “You know where you are?” he asks, and we bellow that we do, we do know, but he tells us anyway. “You’re in the jungle, baby,” he says, and then he tells us that we are going to die.

When Guns opened for the Rolling Stones in LA in 1989.

First press mention of Guns n’ Roses I could find, July 1986 in the LA Times.

Four days after the five members of Guns & Roses got together in Silver Lake and decided to form a band, they left on a West Coast tour. On the way to Seattle, their car broke down in Fresno and the musicians spilled out onto the road with their gear and hitchhiked for the next 40 hours.

When they arrived in the Northwest, they found out the rest of the tour had been canceled and they were only getting $50 for the show, not the $250 they were promised. They played their set on borrowed gear and then turned around and hitched back to Los Angeles, broke and tired.

Here are 178 Guns n’ Roses articles copied (or in some cases transcribed?) onto a fan site. So much in here. Tons of magazine features and interviews.

And just for kicks, Chuck Klosterman reviewing Chinese Democracy.

Appetite for Destruction at 25

On tone deafness

A writer tries to fight off his tone deafness and learn to sing. For what it’s worth, I definitely think I’m part of the 4%, but I’m probably part of the 17%.

Studies indicate that, while 17 percent of us believe we’re tone deaf, only 4 percent of people actually have amusia, the oddly inappropriate technical term for a condition that only the mean-spirited would consider amusing. Perhaps the Zimbabweans have it right with the proverb, “If you can walk you can dance. If you can talk you can sing.”

On tone deafness

Miles Davis record reviews

One of the reasons I post on the internet is to popularize Pat Metheny’s thoughts on Kenny G. I’ve posted about it at least twice here, and at least twice on Kottke. In 1964, an interviewer listened to some records with Miles Davis and asked him his opinions. The result is similar to Metehny’s feelings about Kenny G. Excerpts of the best are below, but click through.

Rate it? How can I rate that?

What am I supposed to say to that? That’s ridiculous. You see the way they can fuck up music? It’s a mismatch. They don’t complement each other. Max and Mingus can play together, by themselves. Mingus is a hell of a bass player, and Max is a hell of a drummer. But Duke can’t play with them, and they can’t play with Duke.

Now, how are you going to give a thing like that some stars? Record companies should be kicked in the ass. Somebody should take a picket sign and picket the record company.

Five stars is real good? It’s just good, no more. Give it three.

As for Gilberto, he could read a newspaper and sound good! I’ll give that one five stars.


Via Pieratt

Miles Davis record reviews

Neil deGrasse Tyson ain’t nothin’ to fuck wit’

Gza is recording an album about science called Dark Matter, and he’s been talking to Neil deGrasse Tyson for info on the lyrics.

GZA isn’t just relying on his lyrics and music to convey his love of science; the album may also come with an illustrated book featuring a glossary of terms. Nor is he stopping with space. The next album in the series is going to be about oceans. With any luck, the third will be about fuckin’ magnets and how they work.

Via @mikenizza

Neil deGrasse Tyson ain’t nothin’ to fuck wit’

How to make a star II

The other day Jason put a post on Kottke.org called How to make a star. I’d had one of these links up in the tabs for a couple months, and this other one I just found today, but both are related to star making.

From August of 1999 (via Stellar), a profile of Ray Manzella, something of a blonde-maker. He helped make Vanna White, Jenny McCarthy, and Pamela Anderson stars. The article mentions 3 women he thinks will be stars. I’d never heard of any of them, but according to Google, two of the three have had fairly successful careers (and one is married to baseball player Scott Podsednik). The other one doesn’t seem to have a Google record at all.

Ray’s a very handsome man. When people meet him, they often try to guess which movie star he looks like-Roy Scheider, Michael Douglas, Ted Danson, George Hamilton? Maybe that’s why this feels so innocent, so wholesome, like he’s just cheering on the team. He beams down at the photos. Any one of them might be the next Vanna, the next Pamela, the next Jenny, the next perfect Ray Manzella hybrid that becomes not just an actress but an icon you can cross-promote from movies to books to dolls to toothpaste to infomercials. They sold a million Vanna White dolls on the Home Shopping Network-a million dolls! “These girls jump off the page,” he says. “They’re channelstoppers, every one of them. If all three make it, it wouldn’t surprise me. If not, I’m gonna quit the business.”

In March, John Seabrook wrote about Rihanna’s song making team in the New Yorker, really about pop music in general. There’s a TON of interesting stuff in this story.

Most of the songs played on Top Forty radio are collaborations between producers like Stargate and “top line” writers like Ester Dean. The producers compose the chord progressions, program the beats, and arrange the “synths,” or computer-made instrumental sounds; the top-liners come up with primary melodies, lyrics, and the all-important hooks, the ear-friendly musical phrases that lock you into the song. “It’s not enough to have one hook anymore,” Jay Brown, the president of Roc Nation, and Dean’s manager, told me recently. “You’ve got to have a hook in the intro, a hook in the pre-chorus, a hook in the chorus, and a hook in the bridge.” The reason, he explained, is that “people on average give a song seven seconds on the radio before they change the channel, and you got to hook them.”

The top-liner is usually a singer, too, and often provides the vocal for the demo, a working draft of the song. If the song is for a particular artist, the top-liner may sing the demo in that artist’s style. Sometimes producers send out tracks to more than one top-line writer, which can cause problems. In 2009, both Beyoncé and Kelly Clarkson had hits (Beyoncé’s “Halo,” which charted in April, and Clarkson’s “Already Gone,” which charted in August) that were created from the same track, by Ryan Tedder. Clarkson wrote her own top line, while Beyoncé shared a credit with Evan Bogart. Tedder had neglected to tell the artists that he was double-dipping, and when Clarkson heard “Halo” and realized what had happened she tried to stop “Already Gone” from being released as a single, because she feared the public would think she had copied Beyoncé’s hit. But nobody cared, or perhaps even noticed; “Already Gone” became just as big a hit.

How to make a star II

Tom Gabel comes out as transgender

About a month ago, Rolling Stone reported that Tom Gabel, the singer of punk band Against Me!, was coming out as transgender and would begin living as Laura Jean Grace. Gabel’s wife, Heather, is staying with him. I’d been wanting to write this blog post for about a month, saving an entire of row of tabs in the tab attic for it. When Rolling Stone has an exclusive, they don’t put the articles online for a while, so I hadn’t actually got to read the full text until now. The timing of the announcement was fitting, the Wednesday after MCA died, and the same day President Obama announced his support of gay marriage.

I was curious to see the response, but support from other bands, GLAAD, and fans was quickly announced. The only negative comments I saw were on St.Augustine.com, a website from Gabel’s hometown.

This is an uncomfortable blog post to write. Against Me! was my favorite band for a couple years, so I was… I guess invested in the story. But talking about it with friends, I was self-conscious about the words I used. I didn’t want to call it weird or crazy because of the negative connotations of those words, but I also didn’t know what other words to use. Even in this post, I’m consciously trying to rework sentences to avoid having to use gendered pronouns. And I fully realize this discomfort doesn’t even rate on the scale of discomfort Grace has gone through in her life.

Here’s an open letter in the Guardian from “just another transsexual on the internet.”

All transitions are brave alike, but public transitions are each brave in their own unique way. I won’t lie, this is going to be hard – and it’s even harder to do it in the spotlight of public opinion. But the opposite would have been hard too, you know. There are things I accomplished in my pre-transition life that now I find myself reticent to talk about, afraid to bring more complication into a life grown already more complicated than I ever thought possible.

Here’s an interview with the story’s writer, Josh Eells, who admirably handled a difficult and important story. Eells deftly helped illustrate the story by switching pronoun usage from he to she to mark the timeline of the interviews first with Gabel in NY, then with Gabel in Florida, and finally with Grace in Florida.

Do you know why she wanted to reveal this in such a hugely public way?
I’m not sure why she wanted to do it in exactly this way, but I think she wanted to not have a thousand conversations with people. This was a way to push herself a little. She said that so many times she’d make a goal to tell her wife Heather or the band, and she’d make excuses and put it off. This was setting up a deadline for herself. She knew this would come out at the beginning of May. Also, she just wanted to have something she could point people towards. Instead of having people e-mail and call over and over, she could just say, “This article explains everything and after that we can talk.” It was a good way to get the news out all at once.

Lastly, Against Me! fronted by Laura Grace debuted last week as the opening act on The Cult’s summer tour (they still tour?!). It’s a good crowd to play in front of to get their feet wet, a mix of people who don’t know anything about them, and diehard fans willing to pay full price to see their favorite band in a 40 minute opening set.

I’m glad things with the announcement seem to have gone well so far, there must be a sense of relief at not having to hide herself anymore. As the highest profile musician (person?) to come out as trans, it’s an incredibly brave step she took. Hopefully her announcement will broaden the conversation around transgender issues and make it just a sliver easier for other people in similar situations. It’s an important story, at least take a look at the article.

Tom Gabel comes out as transgender

Afternoon reading

The price of ice cream might be going up as the global price of vanilla spikes.

In turn, that’s seen 40 per cent of the world’s current stock of vanilla—around 1,000 tonnes—shipped out of Madagascar recently, and as a result the markets have gone crazy. After six years hovering at around $25 per kilo, the price has jumped to $40 in single day.

A bunch of Redditors talk about how they became rich. (via Stellar)

What I’ve learned/realized:
Acquire an education, secure a stream of income, put it to work intelligently, and live with self-control.
Don’t get divorced.
Never trust your business partners; never treat them like you don’t trust them.

A demographic historian has determined the death toll in the Civil War is 20% higher, 130K people, than the currently agreed upon estimate. (via @davidg)

He counted the number of native-born white men of military age in 1860 and determined how many of that group were still alive in 1870. He compared that survival rate with the survival rates of the men of the same ages from 1850-1860, and from 1870-1880 – the 10-year census periods before and after the Civil War…He controlled for other demographic assumptions, including mortality rates of foreign-born soldiers, added the relatively small number of black soldiers killed, and compared the numbers with the rates of female survival over the same periods.

Here’s an interview with H.R. of Bad Brains.

The New York Times has a writer live like a billionaire for a day because that IS IMPORTANT NEWS.

After breakfast, I rush back to the car for a high-speed trip to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, where I’m meeting a real-life billionaire for a trip on his private jet. The billionaire, a hedge fund manager, was scheduled to go down to Georgia and offered to let me interview him during the two-hour jaunt on the condition that I not reveal his identity.

Afternoon reading