Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Stuck in My Head 3.28.2012

I promise that getting back to regular blogging is a priority for me...but I can't promise when it will happen.

On Monday, I watched a documentary on Harry Nilsson, called Who is Harry Nilsson (and Why is Everybody Talkin' About Him?), and loved it. It's available on Netflix instant, if you want to check it out. It inspired me to look into his music, more than I have in the past, and this track just killed me. I sat straight up and said, "holy crap, that is a great song!"

Yeah, it suffers from a bit "endlessly repeated lyrics" syndrome, but the groove is massive. It's just completely infectious. And it shares a title with a Metallica song, which is funny as hell.

Jump in the Fire
by Harry Nilsson

You can climb a mountain, you can swim the sea  
You can jump into the fire but you'll never be free  
You can shake me up or I can break you down, oh, oh
We can make each other happy 
Oh, we can make each other happy 
We can make each other happy 
Oh, we can make each other happy
You can climb a mountain, you can swim the sea 
You can jump into the fire but you'll never be free, no no 
You can shake me up or I can break you down, oh, oh
We can make each other happy 
Oh, we can make each other happy 
Oh, we can make each other happy 
We can make each other happy, oh
You can climb a mountain, you can swim the sea 
You can jump into the fire but you'll never be free, no no 
You can shake me up, I can break you down, oh, oh
We can make each other happy 
We can make each other happy 
We can make each other happy 
We can make each other happy, oh

Friday, March 23, 2012

Stuck in My Head 3.23.2012

by John Fogerty

Lookin’ out across this town,
Kind o’ makes me wonder how,
All the things that made us great,
Got left so far behind.

This used to be a peaceful place:
Decent folks, hard working ways.
Now they hide behind locked doors,
Afraid to speak their mind.

I think we need a gunslinger,
Somebody tough to tame this town.
I think we need a gunslinger,
There’ll be justice all around.

Someone let the fences go,
Wild-eyed bunch moved in, ya know,
Shootin’ up the streets shoutin’, “Everybody down,”
The dogs all runnin’ loose.

Wrecked the paper, closed the school,
Tired old judge got roughed up too.
No one left to make a stand;
They whisper, “What’s the use?”

I think we need a gunslinger,
Somebody tough to tame this town.
I think we need a gunslinger,
There’ll be justice all around.

I think we need a gunslinger,
Somebody tough to tame this town.
I think we need a gunslinger,
There’ll be justice all around.

 I think we need a gunslinger,
Somebody tough to tame this town.
I think we need a gunslinger,
There’ll be justice all around.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's Been Quiet...Too Quiet.

Yeah, so it's been quiet around here. Well, it's not been quiet for me, but blog-wise, it has. I'm hoping to get back on the horse pretty quick.

I can only blame one thing...


Yes, it's the last printed set.

No, we're not going out of business.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tres Mountains

I get why some folks don't like side projects, "supergroups," and the like. Sometimes they're rather uninspired, and worse, sometimes blatant cash-grabs. This week, however, I discovered (almost a full year after it's release) a project featuring Dug Pinnick (King's X), Richard Stuverud (The Fastbacks), and Jeff Amet (Pearl Jam), called Tres Mountains. You can find a download of their album, Three Mountains, on amazon.

I am really digging this record. It's definitely hard rock, but there's a lot of funk in there. I suppose you have to expect that with two bass players involved, although Dug handles the guitar and vocals. The lyrical content is just slightly off-the-wall, but also very pointed, and I dig that too. Here's live versions of a couple of my favorite tracks.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday With The Boss - Part 17: Wrecking Ball

Springsteen is always good when he's angry.

Make no mistake, Wrecking Ball is an angry record. It's a rather blunt indictment of the environment of greed that led our country into the financial mess we're in right now. He's seeing the hard-working people of America getting swamped under a financial wave that can't be stopped, no matter how hard they work to stay on top of it. The dice are loaded in favor of the haves, who don't seem to give a fig what happens to the have nots.

Politics are politics, a "message" is all well and good, but Springsteen the songwriter is just too damn good to forget the catchy tunes. It's becoming a hallmark of Springsteen's work, the more he's trying to make a point, the more I actually enjoy the songs as songs. The tracks here, especially "Shackled and Drawn" and "Death to My Hometown," are so good at getting your toe tapping, your fist in the air, that you can't help but feel their power as rallying cries.

I always loved the feel of sweat on my shirt
Stand back son and let a man work
Let a man work, is that so wrong
I woke up this morning shackled and drawn

I can also say that, after the detour into a more pop vein with Working on a Dream, Bruce's lyrics have come back to carrying weight. These songs are powerful, lyrically. Even with the "recycled" tracks here, "Wrecking Ball," "Land of Hope and Dreams," and "American Land," there's a renewed vigor to them as they sit in the midst of epic laments like "Jack of all Trades." This is Springsteen back where he belongs, as the chronicler and troubadour of the working class. A working class left behind.

So you use what you’ve got and you learn to make do
You take the old, you make it new
If I had me a gun, I’d find the bastards and shoot ’em on sight
I’m a jack of all trades, we’ll be all right
I’m a jack of all trades, we’ll be all right

The surprising part of Wrecking Ball is the musical evolution. Springsteen and producer Ron Aniello have brought in elements like drum loops and samples, and somehow used them to broaden the Springsteen sound. "Rocky Ground" is clearly the most experimental track here, and, while it's not my favorite, I certainly admire the embracing of divergent elements. Vocalist Michelle Moore almost full-out duets on the track, and provides a rap. You can bet there's a certain segment of the Springsteen fanbase livid over this track. Of course, that was my favorite part of Working on a Dream, as well. The exploration of new sounds.Your mileage may vary.

Now, no shells ripped the evening sky
No cities burning down
No army stormed the shores for which we’d die
No dictators were crowned
I awoke on a quiet night, I never heard a sound
The marauders raided in the dark
And brought death to my hometown
They brought death to my hometown

 I'm particularly jazzed about Tom Morello's (Rage Against the Machine) appearance on "Jack of All Trades" and "This Depression." I have loved every collaboration these two men have done together, especially the live version of "The Ghost of Tom Joad." Morello provides a appropriate guitar solo on each track, that also is distinctively him. It's lovely work.

We also have what, I would imagine, will be Clarence Clemons' final contribution to the Springsteen legacy, a terrific sax solo on "Land of Hope and Dreams." I found myself very emotional the first few times I listened to it. It's beautiful work, as always from the Big Man, and it does somewhat make the entire track feel like a tribute to him.

Well, I will provide for you
And I’ll stand by your side
You’ll need a good companion now
For this part of the ride
Leave behind your sorrows
Let this day be the last
Tomorrow there’ll be sunshine
And all this darkness past

The Special Edition CD also provides two bonus tracks "Swallowed Up (In the Belly of the Whale)" and yet another version of "American Land." I love that song, but after closing every show for the last two tours with it, I think I am done.

It's hard to tell where I'd place Wrecking Ball in the later-career Springsteen catalog. (I don't even bother trying to compare these records to the early albums...there's a genius there, a raw, unstoppable burst of musical release, that no artist 30 plus years into a career can match.) It's going to take a few more listens to get a handle on it, but it's got that same fire that The Rising and Magic had. A sense of purpose and drive. I think it's gonna be a keeper.

Favorite Tracks:
Shackled and Drawn
Jack of All Trades
Death to My Hometown
Wrecking Ball
Land of Hope and Dreams

Friday, March 9, 2012

John Carter (of Mars)

Disney's marketing team ought to be ashamed of themselves.

I am not kidding. Last night I saw John Carter, a film I would easily describe as the most fun I've had in a theater for many moons. It was thrilling, funny, exciting, sexy (in a PG-13 way), and visually stunning. It's full of dashing derring-do, cool aliens and monsters, and battles to the death. Any 8-12 year old kid that saw this would lose their mind.

...and there were five people in the theatre last night, including the two people with me.

That's a crime. It's a crime because director/screenwriter Andrew Stanton, and screenwriters Mark Andrews and Michael (THE GENIUS - My favorite novelist, ever) Chabon, have taken the John Carter of Mars stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs and brought them to vibrant life on screen. They've also done it without apologizing for what these stories are, pulp science-fantasy adventure. John Carter is exactly what it should be, and, even while making changes (Some that ERB made himself as the series progressed), and amalgamating parts of the original stories, is vastly more faithful than any screen version of Burroughs' most famous creation, Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle.

John Carter is a Civil War veteran, a Confederate from the Northern Virginia Calvary. The war over, he has gone into the west, Arizona, to make his fortune mining gold. He holds a pacifist stance, refusing to serve as an Indian fighter for the Union Calvary, and haunted by loss. Truly, this is just prologue, but it's well-written and executed, as is a amusingly ingenious framing sequence that is lifted directly, more or less, from the original John Carter story, A Princess of Mars.

Shortly, Carter finds himself in a strange cave, filled with gold...and something else. There is a struggle and Carter awakes in a different desert, far from where he was a moment before. He is on the plains of Mars, called Barsoom by it's inhabitants, where, in the light gravity he finds himself able to leap vast distances, and possessing great strength. No, this Mars bears no trace or relation to scientific reality, but Barsoom is Burroughs version of Middle Earth, or Narnia, or any number of other fantasy realms that writers have created over the years. If you can't roll with it, I pity you, and just stay home.

As is the tradition with this sort of story, and A Princess of Mars helped build those traditions, Carter finds himself entangles with the tribes of Barsoom. He encounters the Tharks and the Red Men of Mars, and the various factions within their clans. Meeting the Red Men princess, Dejah Thoris, and entering into a rather effective romance. The fate of Barsoom is at hand, and John Carter must bring the tribes together to stop it.

No, the story is not new, but it is smack dab at the heart of a pulp tradition dating to a least the publishing of A Princess of Mars, more than 100 years ago. It's a tradition that every facet of this film embraces, wholeheartedly. You never find anyone smirking, or undercutting the drama, yet the entire spectacle is so light-hearted and just plain fun, it never feels overwrought. The production team obviously LOVES the Burroughs stories (Stanton and Chabon have spoken at length about it), and that love is apparent in how they brought it to the screen. I can imagine the idea was to capture how it felt when they first read a John Carter of Mars story, full of "that is so cool!"

Stanton, much like Brad Bird with his work on Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol, asserts himself as a filmmaker in the live-action realm, I'd even say he eclipses Bird's work. John Carter doesn't approach the sublime artistry of Stanton's Wal-E, but his touchstone of Lawrence of Arabia for much of the visual style of the film is inspired. He handles all aspects of the, by it's very nature, effects-laden production with aplomb, and crafts some really impressive imagery.

The cast is really, really solid, and fairly impressive for an effects film. Willem Dafoe, as Thark leader Tars Tarkas, as usual, embraces the challenge of motion-capture, and becomes, at his first try, a master of the form. Smanatha Morton and Thomas Hayden Church also bring something special, I'm sure Stanton's animation background helped tremendously in this area. I loved all the Tharks (especially the babies), and also liked that the film didn't back down from the more brutal parts of their society from the books.

The human cast is also great, with a ton of great character actors all over the place, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy and Bryan Cranston all appear and do exactly what they need to do to drive the story forward (pulp fiction is a plot-driven form, after all) with verve and energy. No one seems to be cashing a check, and everyone seems energized and connected to Burroughs world.

Of course, our central characters/lovers are Lynn Collins as Dejah Thoris, and Taylor Kitsch as John Carter, himself. Let me just say, I can't praise Collins enough. She IS the Dejah Thoris you remember, fiery and feisty, all while being extremely, extremely beautiful. The costuming does wonders for her, though, as you might expect, they, sadly, don't faithfully translate Dejah's wardrobe from the book (if you've read them, you know exactly what I'm talking about). Well, that's PG-13 for you.

Kitsch is good, ably portraying a reluctant man of action in a strange land, but he is on my very short list of problems. The real issue is in the early Civil War-era scenes. The backstory shares much with The Outlaw Josey Wales, and I cannot help but feeling that Kitsch looks a little young for the hardened warrior we are told Carter is. I mean the guy is 31, so it's not like he's a teenager, but there's something soft about his face that doesn't speak of years of war and bloodshed. Once he's on Barsoom, and can play the Han Solo/Harrison Ford "charming rogue" stuff, he's fine. Though every actor in this kind of role starts to pale when you think of what Harrsion Ford, in his prime, would've done with this kind of part. I also did find myself thinking, due to the Josey Wales connection I made,  how interesting a 70's-era Eastwood would've been as John Carter....

Anyway...That's all supposition. Kitsch is a very good and compelling John Carter. The way my mind wanders isn't his fault, but I stand behind my "too young, too pretty" thoughts early in the picture.

In the absolutely non-human realm...You are going to love, love, love Woola. Disney, once would go mad for this thing if you'd just feature it. It's a monster/pet, and functions on that level, but, wow, what fun. The best comic relief character in quite a while. You could've sold millions in stuffed Woolas at Disneyland, you dinks!

The box office tracking on this film is miserable. They keep lowering the opening weekend estimates. That's a crime. It's a crime because it has nothing, whatsoever, to do with the joyful movie that Andrew Stanton and his team made. Yeah, the plot's a little complex, and it moves very, very fast, but that's a pulp fiction trope, too. What I can't understand is why Disney's marketing, handed this loving, expertly done tribute to pulp adventure, was so terrified to embrace that.

In my mind, this film will always be under it's original and true title John Carter of Mars. Not the meaningless, confusing John Carter. The fact, confirmed by Stanton, that it was changed because "women won't go to a movie with 'Mars' in the title" is insulting on so many levels. The fact they won't use Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan, as a selling point is plain stupid.

The mouse house is too busy looking at research and demographics, and not looking at the film. This film shows you, in every moment of it's running time, how to market it effectively. Not by finding the "audience sectors" it appeals to, but by embracing what it is. By reveling in what it is. Shame on you, Disney.

Walt must be spinning in his grave.

So, let me tell you what Disney's high-powered marketers were unable, or, worse, unwilling, to tell you. John Carter is a wonderful ode to pulp adventure that you will enjoy every moment of watching. Go. See. It.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Just relax, I'm still Listening To It

Notice: I am soaking up as much of the new Springsteen album, Wrecking Ball, as possible before giving my opinion.

Initial assessment? This is a terrific album. I'm not sure it's a late-career masterpiece like Magic, but it's right up there. Lots of power, lots of emotion, and lots of musical exploration. It's great to see The Boss come out with something that feels very much of his catalog, with the folk and Irish elements, and also way outside the box, with samples and other very modern techniques.

But more personally, this album makes me think of the work I do at Stage left...

(bear with me)

...I realize THAT'S the kind of "political" theatre I want to make. It has a point, but "has a beat and you can dance to it." It's angry, but also ready to embrace the joys that life offers. It's smart, but not on an overwrought, intellectualized level. It's the full fucking package.

Full review coming...probably Monday

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Boss and "Neil Young" ...Again

2010 - "Whip My Hair" (70's era Bruce)

2012 - "Sexy and I Know It" (80's era Bruce)


Stuck In My Head 3.6.2012

I have to tank Sal, over at Burning Wood, for this one. Never heard it before, but it's amazing.

Well, most Pete Townshend is amazing...

The Shout
by Pete Townshend

Oh, oh
Oh, oh
I miss you, I miss you
I remember lying by your side
Up in the eerie waters of paradise
N' then one day you walked out
Now I have nothing to do but shout

And I want my voice
To cut over mountains
And I want my soul
To gush up like fountains
To where you reside

Oh, and it's Springsteen release day!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

R.I.P. Ralph McQuarrie

Rest In Peace
Ralph McQuarrie
June 13, 1929 - March 3, 2012

The man who first brought Star Wars to life. 

R.I.P. Ronnie Montrose

Rest In Peace
Ronnie Montrose

Rock Candy
by Montrose

Lord! Oh, yeah.
When you need a friend through thick and thin
Don't look to those above you.
When you're down and out, ain't no doubt
Nobody wants you.

But you're rock candy baby
Hard, sweet and sticky.
Rock candy baby
Hard, sweet and sticky.

When you're seventeen reachin' for your dreams
Don't let no one reach it for you.
Pull up your pants,
Stretch out take a chance.
If it can be done, you can do it.

R.I.P. Shelly Moldoff

You probably don't know the name Sheldon Moldoff, but he was one of the greats. He, along with many others were "ghost artists" for Batman creator Bob Kane. He was co-creator of many venerable elements of the Batman strip, Poison Ivy, Mister Freeze, Clayface, Batgirl, Bat-Mite and Ace the Bat-Hound. He also worked steadily on golden age books like Green Lantern and Hawkman. He was also the last living creator who had work in Action Comics #1, which introduced Superman to the world. (No, he didn't work on Superman, but one of the back-up features.)

Shelly Moldoff passed away of kidney failure on Febuary 29th.

One of my thrills during my first visit to the San Diego Comic-Con, was briefly meeting Shelly. It was outside a Golden Age Batman panel. Shelly walked up, no entourage or anything even remotely like it. He signed anything he was asked to, and chatted with everyone who wanted to.

The panel itself was where his tenor struck me. The whole thing fairly quickly devolved into a "how Bob Kane screwed me over" party. Jerry Robinson, may he rest in peace, leading the charge. Shelly didn't really engage in that, simply repeating that he was very aware of the deal he made with Kane, and he didn't regret it. That was the deal. Robinson seemed angry at him for saying that, which isn't a criticism, Robinson had valid gripes, but there was something very serene about Moldoff. I was left with a very positive impression of the man, maybe it was all wrong, I only met him briefly. 

God bless you, Shelly. You can read more about the man here.

Rest in Peace
Sheldon "Shelly" Moldoff
April 14, 1920 – February 29, 2012

Friday, March 2, 2012

Stuck In My Head 3.2.2012

Hey, it's a King's X kinda week...

Lost In Germany
by King's X

Moving in a bus too close for comfort
Listening to all the gibberish around me
Wonder, how much longer can I stand it
Looking for a phone I cannot find

Like a politician in disguise
You know I had to look you in the eyes
And smile, while I crawled another mile in Germany
Lost in Germany

Swimming in an ocean of your feelings counting
Every moment go one by one
Laughing to keep from crying out in anger
Praying that I can make it through this night

It was like a never ending week
But I learned to turn the other cheek
And smile, while I ran for one more mile in Germany
Lost in Germany
Lost in Germany

Shooting at a target that eludes me
Hammering on a nail that just won't go in
Biting on a tongue that wants to speak out
Searching for a light that I can shine

But now I have crossed that borderline
And I wonder if I'll ever find
Your hand, 'cause I did not understand in Germany
Lost in Germany
Lost in Germany

The Man Who Heard Voices

I first heard about The Man Who Heard Voices: Or, How M. Night Shyamalan Risked His Career on a Fairy Tale and Lost when I was reading one of those "Can This Career Be Saved" articles that entertainment magazines and websites do every once in a while. Listing creatives who've made huge professional or personal blunders in the public eye, and found their stars on the wain.

This particular entry was, as you might guess, about M. Night Shyamalan. Find the pertinent section here. I was particularly struck by the first sentence Drew McWeeney wrote; "First, he should read Michael Bamberger's The Man Who Heard Voices about 30 times in a row, just so he internalizes how out-of-control precious his reputation was at that point."

Now, as as a film nerd, and one who's grown rather antagonistic with Shyamalan's work, how can you pass up reading a book with that kind of comment attached to it?  I was also really amused by the title as amazon listed it, and what appeared on the cover (see image). It was sort of odd that Bamberger was a sports writer, mainly about golf, but, hey, insight can come from anywhere.

I was a little surprised about the book when I actually read it. I think, if you're a big fan/defender of Shyamalan, you'll find the material here to defend that stance, if you're a non-fan, or have grown disenchanted with the man's work, you'll find plenty to damn him with. It's a very even-handed book, despite the fact that Bamberger had to have been allowed into the "inner circle" during Shyamalan's break from Disney after The Village, his move to Warner Brothers, and the making of The Lady in the Water. He could not have written the book if he hadn't. I'd have to say it's a testament to Bamberger's writing/reporting skills that the book feels meticulously even-handed. He's not grinding an ax, but he's also not letting his subject off the hook, either.

In the interests of full disclosure, I have not seen The Lady in the Water, The Village, or any of Shyamalan's films after Signs, which I thought contained an absolutely stunning Mel Gibson performance, and a rather overly contrived series of events to arrive at the climax. The "twist ending" did not work for me, even when I quite liked the rest of the film (I have a friend who swears up and down that Signs has no "twist" - whatever) I quite enjoyed The Sixth Sense, but have only seen it once. I hated Unbreakable upon first viewing, it's absolutely, stunningly brilliant until the last 10 seconds. When the conflict was resolved by a caption on the screen, I was livid. So much so, the entire film was ruined for me. As time has gone on, I have learned to embrace the film's genius...but I turn it off before that caption comes on screen.

I will note that before finishing this book, I put both The Village and The Lady in the Water in my netflix queue, and moved them to the top. I had intended to see both of these films, but just never found the time. The book re-sparked the curiosity. So, I am in no position to judge them creatively, but I think it's common knowledge that Shaymalan's box office has been in a kind of free fall since Signs.

What's really clear in Bamberger's book is that he was witness to a filmmaker slamming headfirst into reality. Shyamalan's absolute belief in his abilities, and that belief's encouragement to a long series of rituals and precious rules, is coming apart from page one. It starts with his leaving Disney, mainly because the executives there, chiefly Nina Jacobson, do not abide by his rules of a Sunday delivery of the script, and then the gall have problems with it.

Shyamalan would deny any of his eccentricities are about ego, but really, let's be honest, they are. That's not good or bad, almost everyone in this business is driven by ego, at some level, but it does lead to the indulgences we see in the early chapters. The specific demands he imposes, the petulant attitude he takes when they're not adhered to. When the dinner meeting that marks the end of his relationship with Disney breaks up, Shyamalan takes a paranoid stance, "they're not with me." When the simple fact is, the execs, and Jacobson, had problems with a script that, almost immediately thereafter, Shyamalan has problems with. The issue wasn't the work, but that Night wasn't treated like he had all the answers.

You can see Night spinning as the book goes on, and I think what's revealed here can easily show us what's happened to his career since. He thrives on success, and becomes conflicted and indecisive when he doesn't KNOW he has the answer. His success breeds his confidence, and that confidence breeds his successes. When the pieces of his puzzle began to slip, with The Village, the first time Jacobson questioned him, I think he began to second guess everything.

Certainly there are other mistakes, casting himself in larger and larger roles in his films, for example. By The Lady in the Water, he was playing major supporting roles, and even the most casual moviegoer was questioning why it always had to be about him. It's also really clear that, for Night, The Lady in the Water was about SOMETHING IMPORTANT, it was a message movie, and a major one. There's also no place in the book where he actually seems to be able to articulate what that message is. He says the film is going to "change the world," but but gives not hint what that means. Like I've said many times in this blog...audiences don't give a damn about your message...they care about your story.

I wondered many times, reading the book, if Night would just stop worrying about if people are "with him," or "believe in him," and just worked the script, worked the story, things might's turned out different. Which was kind of what the Disney execs were telling him, in the first place.

I don't know how I feel about Shyamalan after reading the book. I am very impressed that he authorized it with, according to Bamberger, very few changes. It's the same kind of bravery Metallica had in releasing Some Kind of Monster. There's a major dichotomy in him. He wants things to be EXACTLY as he wants them, but he also wants people to do those things because they believe in him, personally. It, again, is the sort of ego-driven motivation you see in this business a lot. "Can't you do it like I tell you because you realize I'm a genius?"

That's easier to do when you can't see that the director's, deep inside, questioning it, too.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Wow,179 Page Views in Three Days (More King's X)

I ought to mention King's X more often.

Of course, I tend to think most of those page views were already "the converted." By that I mean, people who are already fans of the band, and who don't need to be encouraged to go to a show, or pick up the latest release. As much as I love to connect with those folks, that's really not gonna help the band.

In all seriousness, they're a band you should check out, if you haven't. I did find myself thinking I should offer up good places to start with the discography....

Now, I can ALMOST say "anywhere." I think their catalog is that good, and that strong. That's one of those absolutely not helpful things to say in a situation like this. I understand that, so...I offer my five favorite King's X albums.

(I'm sure fans will think I'm crazy with this list...everyone has their favorites right?)

Number Five - Black Like Sunday
Released in 2003, I believe, this is a collection of songs from the very early years of the band, before they were even called King's X, rerecorded by the band now. Some of the songs are a little simplistic, and the lyrics a little silly, compared to where they ended up. That said, I find a lot of these tracks very catchy and fun, with nice groove and melody. .

Favorite tracks:
Black Like Sunday, Danger Zone, Working Man, Finished, Bad Luck

Number Four - Tape Head
To be honest, this was the album that turned me into a rabid fan. I had liked the previous album (wait for it) a whole lot, but when this was released in 1998, I kinda went apeshit for the band. Part of it has to do with the fact I really started working out about that time, and this album became the soundtrack for many, many workouts.

Favorite Tracks;
Groove Machine, Fade, Ono, Ocean, Little Bit of Soul, Higher Than God

Number Three - Ear Candy
When I bought this album in 1996, I hit the track "Picture," and I immediately knew i was listening to one of the best record of the year. This album marked the end of their Atlantic contract (a greatest hits would follow), and there is a real sense that the band felt it would be their last. The lyrics to opening track "The Train" clearly send that message. Thankfully, that didn't happen.

Favorite Tracks:
The Train, Sometime, Looking for Love, Mississippi Moon, Picture

Number Two - Dogman
There's a real sense that Dogman's release in 1994 was King's X trying for the top. Grunge was everywhere, and the band shared a lot, in terms of tone and sound, with what was coming out of Seattle. They recruited Pearl Jam producer Brendan O'Brien and crafted perhaps their best sounding album. It's also strange that they populated it with songs that were almost brazenly crafted out of fits of depression. It's a dark album, but exquisitely executed.

Favorite Tracks:
Dogman, Pretend, Black the Sky, Fool You, Complain, Cigarettes

Number One - XV
I can hear a bunch of fans out there right now..."What, no Gretchen?!?!" Yes, in many ways Gretchen Goes to Nebraska is King's X at their best, but for me, personally, I've loved the way the band has evolved in the 2000's. On this, their most recent album, the melodic sense has remained strong, but the groove and heaviness has just become more pronounced. The band feels more powerful than ever, to my ears.

Favorite Tracks:
Pray, Blue, Rocket Ship, I Just Want to Live, Move, Go Tell Somebody, Love and Rockets (Hells Screaming)

Now, this list is clearly biased to the latter half of their career, which shouldn't be construed as to say I don't like their early albums, because I damn well do. It's also striking me right now that my favorites of  their albums all fall around the mid-to-late 90's, when I discovered them. I suppose that's true of any music fan. You like what originally drew you to the band.

If you're looking for a pretty decent overview of the band's early career, their tenure with Atlantic records, there's the collection with the shockingly original title The Best of King's X. It's a good set. I'll always recommend getting the full albums, but it would give you a really good overview of what the band is about, including a classic tracks like King, Goldilox, Pleiades, It's Love, Black Flag, Lost in Germany, and a truly epic live version of their signature track, Over My Head, recorded at the 25th Anniversary Woodstock Festival.

(Yeah, some of those linked videos are's was the 80's)

This is a GREAT band, and you could do worse than give them your ear for a while. Plus, with the current situation with Jerry's health, and cancelling the tour, it'd be nice to see a few scheckles find their way to this very deserving group of artists. So, please, buy the albums...don't pirate them.