Shonen Knife | Overdrive


So I was listening to this record thinking about how it moves past the usual heavy Ramones influence when the news came about the passing of Tommy Ramone. Just a bummer that has to be acknowledged. But this album starts off with the theme of overcoming bad luck, jinxes and the like. Coincidence? Yes. But what can you do with a Bad Luck Song? The Bad Luck Song might be my good luck song, and so on. Relative bummers continue on this album, with the next track Black Crow and later Robots From Hell. These songs might be a surprise if you haven’t been paying that close attention. That could be some people, right? It’s 2014, perfect time to jump on the SK train. Seriously, why not. You could’ve get hooked on the cute stuff, of which there’s plenty, but they’ve also got some regular good Rock songs. About Rock stuff. Darkness, yeah. And of course, cats, food, shopping and tennis. It’s a very typical Shonen Knife record. I don’t have to praise or defend it too much, because it seems like everyone knows what SK is about and likes them. People must exist that do not like them, but they don’t seem to say anything about it. It almost bothers me. Which is why I’m glad they’ve got some non-cute stuff on this one. This is my favorite one since, I dunno…the last several have had some standout tracks but the rest is forgettable. This one is maybe not a new top tenner, but it’s solid.

Slight disappointment in the fine print (great font, btw) is that the songs sung by Ritsuko and Etsuko (Ramen Rock and Green Tea, respectively) have no shared songwriting credit. Thought the new girls were contributing the lyrics at lyrics at least. They seem a little different then the usual Naoko songs, simpler. She just writes with them in mind apparently. And differently than the last album, Pop Tune. (Which I did not review but talked about how those songs went down live). Things are more stripped down, straight up Rock here, but not simply the typical Ramones worship, but other 70s Rock. No real specific influence comes through anymore; the last few years with a stable line-up seems to have ended a bit of an identity crisis for the band. %

Amazon has the mp3 & CD, of course. Or get it direct from Good Charamel Or get the Purple/Green version on vinyl from Damnably

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The Beatles | S/T

Alright, I’ve got two copies of this one, both the stereo mix on CD. There’s notable differences between the two, which I’m going to focus on because trying to come up with some kind of original thought on this album is insane and pointless.

But isn’t this whole thing insane and pointless? One day someone might sit me down and say, “Look, you’ve proved your point or whatever with this record review thing. Why not [do this other thing], we’ll pay you. Real job, it’ll keep you busy. I understand this blog thing is the closest thing you’ve had to a desk job and that you only keep doing it to keep from going completely insane, but that’s enough for us. Just forget it.” I might go for that. Not counting on it, but I sure haven’t turned down such an offer. But how could I make sure, even once ensconced within the cushy chair of seated gainful employment, I don’t fully lose it for good? Most people have some thing, I’m sure you’ve said it: “If I didn’t have _____ I’d go crazy!” Would you? You’d go crazy. You’d take off all your clothes, jump out of a window screaming, run down a crowded street on broken ankles and among horrified onlookers, cut your throat with a butter knife. I’ve never done any thing quite like that. But I keep blogging just to be sure.

Maybe it’s in bad taste to bring up such things in a review of this particular album, as it somehow inspired Charles Manson to…go crazy. I’m not making any effort to unravel any of the lyrics or themes on this thing except to say as an artist, you can never second guess what your supposed message could be or what it could inspire in a crazy person, because they can literally make anything mean anything. I mean Helter Skelter is about an amusement park ride. Paul’s just really enthusiastic about it. But there I go with stuff you can read elsewhere.

I bought the first version in ’94, I remember that’s when I got a CD player and the Beatles albums were some of the first ones I got. Came in a longbox, two single CD cases. I got tired of them getting separated because when I listen to this thing it’s gotta be all the way through every time. So when they started making the dual cases I put them together. I still prefer this to the fancy slipcase foldout deal of the new reissue, and the minimalist Parlophone labels are far…uh, don’t wanna say “superior”…they tie the whole design together. The new one also has some new photos and notes, who cares. I like the zero meta commentary of the first reissue. You can make whatever you want of it. Hopefully it’s not a paranoid, murderous fantasy that you tragically manifest, but what are the odds of that, more than once. Not something you should worry about. Sorry, I keep bringing it up.

Really, it’s not something I used to think about when I listened to the thing. I’m not listening to it right now. Usually when I do these things, I put the record on repeat the whole time until I’m done with it. I prefer not do that now because there’s just so many paths to go down that could go on forever and I used to have this thing where I listened to it every year on my birthday, which is so corny it’s embarrassing to admit and I also used to get very drunk for this which I try not to do at all anymore so why bum myself out with a half-assed experience.

I try to put the whole thing entirely in it’s own context. No, you can’t cut it down to one disc, or listen to it doing the dishes or anything else. You gotta lay down and put the headphones on and every stupid thing is intentional and important. It’s a conceptual album with no concept. It’s a kind of story, like a David Lynch movie. Some things are better left unexplained. It’s just pure experience.

But I’m going to point out one major beef with the remaster, and it’s got nothing to do with compression or any kind of audiophile thing which is maybe there if you really get into that but it’s just one song I notice a big difference: While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Because that is one of those songs that is just such a classic rock pop song, you know this song even if you never sat down and really listened, and everyone makes a big deal about the Clapton solo but I do not give a fuck about that—it’s that the way it’s originally recorded is so crazily cacophonous with that high-pitch organ drone, it’s almost painful. That really blew me away more than anything, that they got away with that sounding like it did. Of course on the remaster, they went back to the original tapes and turned the organ down. Wow. That pretty much says it all.

So, if you don’t have this, I really think you need the non-remastered version. On Amazon the only option for that right now is the 1990 reissue on cassette. That’s probably not worth it. Look around. I’ll eventually try to get an old vinyl copy if I can find one in good shape at a reasonable price. It depends if I live long enough to eventually get paid. Might be worth it.


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Pizzicato Five | La Guerre est Finie

The sound of the telephone
I listened until it stopped
opened my eyes
past 2 in the afternoon
it was raining

fucked up hair
fucked up letter
last night I wrote it
then tore it up

Last night’s wine and
whisky glasses
cigarette butts overflowing
the ashtray
the cat walks around it

Why is the war
not over, I wonder
Why is the war
not going away, I wonder

The day of a hangover
I don’t need music
whatever I hear
becomes the thing I hate

stacks of mail
opened it and threw it out
drank some tea
the afternoon was over

Last night I made a phone call
to a new lover
thinking of you
night came and I was only
still waiting

And today the war
isn’t over, I guess
Maybe the war
might never go away

Why is the war
not over, I wonder
Why is the war
not going away, I wonder

Only rich people
go to the place
for dinner
I was invited to

Last night I wore clothes
I won’t wear again
I’ll get new clothes
put them on and go out:
“Becoming a rich person,
how does it feel?”
the rich people,
my friends—
I’ll ask them what they think.

Maybe the war
won’t ever end
Maybe the war
might never go away


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