Tag Archives: MTV

STATE OF PEARL & JAM

How many times have I said that MTV used to rock my world 20 years ago? I don’t know, but remember the last time I did, talking about the amazing performance of young Guns n’ Roses at the Ritz. Well, today I have to repeat myself, MTV used to rock, and was a very important contributor to my musical education back in the day.

Probably because circumstances have brought Pearl Jam back to my memory recently I’ve been remembering how much I used to love this band back in the 1990s. My favorite one at least until AEnima by Tool was released in autumn 1996 and turned into an obsession. Pearl Jam was everything to me, and their 3 first albums were the Bible. And of course, Eddie Vedder was THE man.

pj promo

Not sure whether I told you the first time I was acquainted with the band was during their performance on the MTV music awards in 1992. Hell of a night, by the way! Guns N’ Roses and Nirvana almost ended fighting because of  some female trouble between Stephanie Seymour (Axl’s girlfriend) and Cobain’s missus, Courtney junkie Love. On the other hands not only Pearl Jam played Jeremy, but also Red Hot Chili Peppers performed Give It Away, The Black Crowes played Remedy, and U2  were broadcast via satellite with Even Better Than The Real Thing. And GN’R played November Rain with Elton John. THAT was a ceremony.

Sometimes I behave very absent-minded and don’t put much attention into certain details. Some day I’ll write about it (I’ve discovered a good one today). I had seen a couple of Pearl Jam videos not focusing on them at all. It was the energy and rage of that performance what finally caught my attention and  drove me nuts. Vedder’s voice wasn’t at his finest, but his attitude was irresistibly threatening, and you know what’s said, first time, first love.

From that moment I became devoted of the band, started bothering my friends to listen to them (only Diana did, and she’s been a diehard ever since), and also tried to find new acquaintances into the band and that musical movement. I was lucky on this regard.

Not sure why I bought my copy of Ten on vinyl. Probably because at that time it was still more common than CDs, and more copies were available, and also because it was better quality than cassette. I paid the same amount as you get charged for brand new re-issues, it was outrageous, but I accepted as there weren’t many options and wanted to have it badly. First time I listened to it I got freaked out because there was a repeated scratch in first song of side B, Oceans. I thought the copy was faulty but kept it all the same, however, thanks to my brother who took my vinyls without permission to a bar and lost them (first pressing Ten and Vitalogy, a drama), I had to buy another copy on vinyl 5-6 years ago, and the same scratch was there.

Whatever! In March 1992 Pearl Jam recorded an unplugged performance. Up to date, there had been a couple of shows, and the most remarkable one from my point of view was Eric Clapton’s, which become very popular thanks to the song Tears in Heaven inspired by the recent death of his son. Talking about an unplugged performance in 2014 is not interesting, but if you analyze the moment, the band, and the blurry concept of an unplugged performance in the day, Pearl Jam’s should to be recognized as the first rock band to dare adapting their wild and powerful sets to something milder. They were the reference to other bands which followed them, such as Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots or Kiss, to mention some.

vedder unplugged

I don’t think the audience knew exactly what  they were about to witness, and sure many of them didn’t even give a shit about the band. It took almost two minutes to the band to start the show and ovation was exaggerated, way too much even for Americans, who really are very enthusiastic.

Pearl Jam played 7 songs, my top 3 included, 6 included in Ten, and State of Love and Trust, which was part of Singles soundtrack: Oceans, State of Love and Trust (not many songs in history have such a terrific title), Alive, Black, Jeremy, Even Flow and Porch. You can notice they weren’t recorded following that order, or maybe there were additional outtakes. If there was anyone who tough it was going to be a low and quiet show, he was completely wrong. Probably things get more under control afterwards, as no band got so insane on stage, as far as I can remember.

It’s weird because you know they’re playing fantastic, but at the same time, guitars are very low and drums and bass are most predominant. But it doesn’t matter. This show was a blast.

It was last Thursday night that I watched the unplugged again. My day had been a shit, flu was attacking, and needed something to cheer me up. This time I observed many details I hadn’t noticed before, and lots of memories stroke back, so hard, for 30 minutes I was 16-17 again, and this feeling moved me very much.

It is so amazing to relate moments of your life to music, I cannot conceive that there are people unable to mark relevant point in their lives in the same way and feel pity for them. When Pearl Jam were ruling my life, this was changing, and I was growing up. I felt in love with someone who used to sing me State of Love and Trust, and got disappointed listening to Animal and No Excuses. And then I met another guy who learned to love Pearl Jam with the passing of time, and introduced me to other bands which are now part of the soundtrack of my life. Because at the end of the day, life is made of experiences, memories and songs, and I try hard to compile a good one, no matter what.

GUNS N’ ROSES AND LIVE AT THE RITZ. RESPECT!

There are not many bands which have been the source of so many conversations, discussions and theories as Guns N’ Roses. Their career as a solid band was too brief, if we consider they were solid at some point, which I doubt, yet impressive. Their legacy based on Appetite for Destruction, Lies (Live Like a Suicide) and even the Use Your Illusion I&II (and The Spaghetti Incident joke, which I love) can kick many bands’ more extended discographies right away.

This post is open for discussion regarding the Illusions as probably many of you are shaking your heads in disagreement, thinking they are shitty albums or they should be reduced to one, but you won’t change my mind. Feel welcome and comment, anyway. You’d really make my day.

ritz

Back to an earlier stage, and while listening to Appetite for Destruction, which, for many who don’t know yet I must remark it’s still my favorite album, I feel like talking about one of the wildest live performances I’ve even seen, if not the best. I’m talking about the classic Live at the Ritz, directed by Scott Kalvert for MTV.

Every time I watch this killing show I wonder why MTV never released it on DVD as they did with the Unplugged sessions. It’s a shame we gotta watch ultra low quality videos on youtube or TV crappy downloads. You don’t have to be a genius to foresee a commercial blockbuster by issuing one of the most spontaneous and wildest show of Guns N’ Roses just about to become the ultimate rock band on Earth. As simple as that.

Recorded early in 1988 in NYC, GN’R were really close to their turning point in their career. They were prominent and popular, but still not as successful as they turn thanks to the explosion of Sweet Child O’ Mine caused by the massive broadcasting of the video by MTV itself.

Probably many fortunate who attended GN’R live shows in clubs won’t regard this performance in the same way as I do, but I still remember when Joe played the video back in 1994 and I was overwhelmed. I’d have sold my soul for attending that show.

Perfect setlist to remember: opening with It’s so Easy and closing with the brilliant Rocket Queen, not forgetting Mr. Brownstone, Nightrain, Outta Get Me,  Aerosmith’s Mamma Kin cover, and what became the main singles of Appetite For Destruction. In essence it was a reckless show.

slash ritz

The stage was on fire. Axl’s snakedancing at its finest, Steven Popcorn Adler totally high on cocaine smiling every time he noticed a camera was around, Duff sweating like swine in his leather jacket and ruling with backing vocals and his punk rock mean attitude on bass (love it!), Izzy smoking cigarette after cigarette in his Keith Richards pose, accompanied by a raw guitar sound, and Slash completely stoned, making mistakes when playing, confessing not being on drugs to the audience (ha! You did drugs till Velvet Revolver era according to your bio)…the atmosphere was so wild audience started to get crazy and jump onto stage to be reduced by security staff members. Insane!

 Personally what shocked and caught me the most was Axl’s aggressive attitude on stage, spreading a halo of pure violence which at some moments I identify as threatening. Never seen him like this again. Full of rage, controlling the band, you could already notice he acted as he felt like, leaving the band alone in the middle of Rocket Queen trying to go on until he decided to be back.

The band is fresh, somehow innocent, interacting with the audience, something which would cause lots of trouble afterwards when Axl became paranoid, constantly feeling harassed by fans, driving him to those weird outbursts which drove to sudden end of the shows. Having still fresh in mind the infamous St. Louis riots, Ritz is so far from that!

What happened after this show it’s already history. Labeled as the Most Dangerous Band in the World, they couldn’t cope with their fame, wealth and other pressures. Mighty Axl’s neurotic behavior were uncontrollable, massive drug abuse by several members of the band was unbearable, and 5 years after this performance, Guns n’ Roses band concept had radically changed for good. From Rags to Riches is perfectly applied to this band. What happened next, such decline and fall, it’s hard to explain. But I still love Guns N’ Roses all the same.

 

HEY YO!

I started writing about my experiences with spicy food because I didn’t want to saturate you, friends, with so much music, but you know, there are waves of everything, and November seems to be marked by music, on one hand thanks to amazing shows I’m attending, and on the other just because, I’m listening to whola lotta music these days. I can’t help it, I’m sorry.

It might sound weird me writing about this style of music I’m not very into nowadays, but the truth is that, back in 1990, when cable TV reached my parents’, and MTV channel was opean and ready to me, first program that quickly caught my attention was Yo! MTV Raps. It was a 1 hour daily show,  which was very entertaining thanks to the hosts, and the weekend special editions were pretty amusing featuring life performances, skate rinks at the set and lots of videos and news. I don’t have any trouble in admitting I did like rap.

Perhaps the fact that I loved Vanilla Ice at that time had something to do in my surprising interest for this style. When I was 14 I didn’t understand much of their discourse. My interest was based on rhythm and all the phrasing. Yeah, thanks to the mixings, scratching, samplers… rap can imply groove. For a non-English speaker, depending on your level of knowledge, lines can be very difficult to understand. . It used to sound Greek to me back then, but as time went by eventually I understood what they were talking about. As a way of measuring my English knowledge it’s quite valid. I’m doing fine.

Rap and R&B have evolved towards something I’m not very attracted to. In fact, I’d say most of the stuff currently in the market is pathetic. Everything is gold, hot chicks which act like hookers, power, money, cars and sex, this is, ostentation and vulgar display of luxury. The artists lack of personality and charm, and the singles miss intensity and power.

Back in the day, rap had a meaning and a target beyond a bunch of niggas in a threatening attitude. Of course, within a style which combined samplers and strong and heavy drums which marked the rhythm of the phrasing, there were lots of themes to talk about, however I’ve always thought of rap as a way to communicate, to express struggle and disappointment, as the musical way of showing the strength of word as a social weapon. Artists were proud of their humble origins, showing us the hood was the key for their success, trying to spread the word of the terrible conditions many of their brothers were living in their ghettos, those places we don’t really know about.

When I was 14 I wasn’t aware of such stories.  I connected to this style via Vanilla Ice, Beastie Boys, and Tone Loc, quite mainstream artists and belonging to the gentle side of the style, the party. Even though he succeeded years later, I would include Kid Rock in this group. It was thanks to the show on MTV, when I discovered the hard side of rap. However it took me many years to discover what this war between West Coast and East Coast war for rap hegemony was about. I still remember Cypress Hill’s first videos on MTV…they were rad!

Oh! I almost forgot. Rap made such impact on me, I asked my parents for The Rapman Casio keyboard, which included a mic, a scratching device, and drums additional sounds.

When I was already adopting music, and specially rock, into my life, there was this early wave of merging rap with rock or metal. The pioneers of such combination were classic Aerosmith joining strength with Run DMC with the super hit Walk This Way. We could say this tendency would give the change nu metal to become prominent. On one hand Ice-T had formed Body Count, mixing rap and metal, Rage Against The Machine had left up breathless with their debut album and their awesome sound, and finally another motion picture soundtrack became a reference for the teenage rock diehard fan, Judgment Night. It took me ages to see the film, which wasn’t that bad, reminding me of The Warriors, by the way. Anyway, the soundtrack was overwhelming, with very cool combinations: Pearl Jam with Cypress Hill, Biohazard and Onyx, Faith No More and Boo Yaa TRIBE, Slayer and Ice-T, and so on. The final result was outstanding.

I lost interest in rap on behalf of more rock style bands and sounds, and even though I enjoy some of Kid Rock’s records, and Eminem’s albums, to say a couple of names, rap is not the same anymore.

Perhaps the fact that I’m more open to different styles far from the regular stuff I consume, has made me remember rap wasn’t against rock, and in fact, many great singles contain as much intensity and power as any rock tune. Thus, to celebrate these memories coming back I’ve created a kinky Spotify playlist of old school tunes. Probably there’s much stuff missing which I’d love you share here, and as I’ve commented, I’m not an expert on the subject and am always willing to discover new bands and sounds. Hope you like it YO!