By Corey Deiterman
By William Michael Smith
By Jef With One F
By Craig Hlavaty
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Sonya Harvey
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Nathan Smith
If you're not already following God's favorite rapper, then what are you even doing?
Houston has a professional football team. They are called the Houston Texans. A lot of people like them. Some of those people are rappers.
The Internet has several forms of social media. One of them is called Twitter. A lot of people use it. Some of those people are rappers.
Rocks Off perused Twitter during the September 30 Texans game against the dreaded, awful, despicable Tennessee Titans (formerly the beloved Houston Oilers) and grabbed the best tweets from the following rappers. See images at right.
Broken: The Movie Trent Reznor Didn't Want You To See
Fans of Nine Inch Nails and loud music know the story of the Broken EP, but for those less familiar, here is the Reader's Digest version on the occasion of its 20th anniversary last month: Upset with his record label, Trent Reznor recorded, in secret, an album of loud, aggressive rock completely unlike his first album (1989's Pretty Hate Machine). He would eventually win a Grammy for the track "Wish" before finding the biggest success of his career with 1994's The Downward Spiral.
There is a lesser-known story concerning Broken, a story that survived the '90s and early '00s as hearsay on messages boards and 8th-generation VHS dubs found at record conventions. It was the story of a movie, also titled Broken, that was so vile it would never see the light of day.
And then in 2006, everything changed. The movie that was supposed to be the stuff of nightmares suddenly appeared online.
Your enjoyment of the film is going to come down to a lot of factors, the most important being how much realistic simulated violence you can stomach. The violence isn't stylized to look cool, and it's not a movie that wants you to jump out of your seat; its mission is to disturb.
Consider the videos that were produced that eventually ended up on Nine Inch Nails' Closure home-video release. "Pinion" features a man being drowned with water that comes from a toilet; "Help Me I'm in Hell" features a man eating flies; and "Happiness In Slavery" features a man being turned into ground meat.
They're all pretty difficult watches for the average viewer, and yet Reznor decided to make all of them available. If "Happiness In Slavery" ruins your day, my advice is to avoid the full movie at all costs, because it only gets worse. Much worse. Blowtorches-and-razors worse.
But if you can stomach it, it's a pretty fascinating watch, and not just for the gore. Cory Garcia
Albums You'll Always See in Thrift Stores
I have been cursed with an affliction to mindlessly buy vinyl at thrift stores, garage sales, flea markets, and estate sales, without regard for how much room I have at home. The problem now encompasses compact discs, too. It's a genetic trait. My father collects containers. His garage looks like The Container Store. Portions of my house look like an antique mall.
The best things I have ever found? Every '60s Kinks LP in one crate at a Salvation Army and Black Flag's Everything Went Black and Public Image Ltd's Second Edition at an outdoor flea market near Almeda Mall. Everything else came in spurts, making the hunt ever more thrilling.
Along my record-hoarding travels — beginning around 1997 — I manage to keep seeing the same albums over and over again. I'm not the only one who has written about these misfit collection castoffs, albums whose only crime was not being a Beatles or Rolling Stones LP.
Any great record missing an inner sleeve: It's true. Most of the time you will find a great classic record — say, Houses of the Holy — only to find it sans inner sleeve and scratched all to hell. At that point you are just paying for a wall piece and not something you can jam out to.
The First Family: Comedian Vaughn Meader took on President Kennedy and his clan in this 1962 release at the height of Camelot mania. It was a rarity too on the pop charts, a comedy album hitting number one that same year. After Kennedy's violent death, all remaining copies of the album were pulled from stocks and later destroyed. Now, almost 50 years since Kennedy's assassination, it's a fun listen from a more innocent time in America.
Billy Joel, Glass Houses: Billy Joel is big in the refuse-bin record world, with nearly his entire early discography a mainstay of Salvation Army and Goodwill inventories. Oddly enough, it's his Glass Houses that I see the most, with Joel in tight, dick-hugging jeans about to throw a rock through a window. As far as his sometime touring partner Elton John goes, his stuff is pretty common on the secondhand market, too, especially Tumbleweed Connection (of all albums) followed by Honky Chateau.
Neil Young, Harvest: I buy this one no matter its condition, whether it's weather-beaten, half-eaten or missing the LP itself. It just feels good in your hands, and the rough-textured cover feels like home.
Chicago (any): Our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles must have really, really liked Chicago at one time, but not enough to hold on to their albums. You are most likely to see any number of Chicago releases collecting dust and gunk on a shelf, with almost pristine covers and vinyl. So people just bought them to donate to a thrift store 40 years later? Craig Hlavaty
ONLY IN HOUSTON
Memorable Houston Concerts of 1992
We posted a prompt on our Rocks Off Facebook page to see what people remembered, and then combed through the Houston Press archives to see what else we could dig up from what must have been a memorable year. (Just ask They Might Be Giants.)
By the way, some of you remembered Peter Gabriel behind 1992's Us, but the "Secret World Live" tour didn't stop here until July 1993. Following is a small, mostly random sampling of shows we found that did stop here in '92. Enjoy.
The Black Crowes, AstroArena, October 12
David Byrne, Tower Theatre, September 24
The Cult, Lenny Kravitz, The Summit, January 25
The Cure, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, June 9-10
Bo Diddley, Rockefeller's, February 1
Dire Straits, The Summit, February 13
Guns N' Roses/Soundgarden, The Summit, January 9-10
Ice Cube, The Unicorn, February 9
Jesus and Mary Chain/Curve/Spiritualized, The Vatican, November 13
Lyle Lovett, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, October 11
Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch, Tower Theater, March 8
Metallica, The Summit, January 17
Morrissey, The Summit, November 6
Pantera, The Unicorn, November 24
Two Years After Ownership Change, Fitz Thrives
Has it really been two years already since Jagi Katial and Omar Afra became the new owner-operators of Fitzgerald's? Apparently so, because the Free Press Summer Fest partners celebrated their second anniversary at the rickety old live music club on White Oak a couple weeks back with a weekend's worth of bands, headlined by the Walkmen. Time flies, as they say.
When the pair bought the club from longtime owner Sara Fitzgerald, who opened the place back in 1977, local music fans were pleased to see the place remain open but a little unsure of what would become of a historic venue where a lot of happy memories have been made.
Two years later, it's pretty safe to say that the takeover has been a resounding success. That's why we toasted Fitzgerald's as the city's Best Live Music Venue in this year's Best of Houston® issue.
Today, quality shows can be seen throughout the week both upstairs and down at the former Polish meeting hall. Before I started writing for Rocks Off last year, it had been almost a decade since I'd stepped inside Fitz, and I get the feeling my story was typical.
My first show back was local rap luminaries Lil' Flip and K-Rino downstairs. Both have been on the scene for a minute, and I'm pretty darn sure they never would have played Fitz back when.
If anyone worried that the Summer Fest brain trust would set Fitzgerald's to indie 24/7 two years ago, they're probably resting pretty easy by now. In the last year, I've seen classic rock, hip-hop, EDM, punk, post-punk, psych and – oh, yes – metal shows at Fitz. And they still brought in all the best indie bands, both local and national.
But even those of us who get paid to come early and stay late couldn't hope to catch everything good in the past two years. I decided to talk to some folks who might've. Last week, I contacted a few of the people who invested significant chunks of their lives into Fitzgerald's relaunch to learn what had changed, what hadn't and what had made everything worth it.
"I had not been to Fitz for about 16 years before we went there to talk to the previous management about taking over," co-owner Jagi Katial says. "One thing that I know has probably changed is the type of and quantity of acts that play Fitz. I would say we have the best bands on the touring and local levels playing the room on any given night."
And aside from the urinals, pray tell, what has changed the least?
"The room itself," he says. "We cleaned it up, painted and dressed up some areas, but I always felt that the two rooms had the right feel already. So we did as little as possible to alter the way the rooms' layout felt." Nathan Smith
The Weirdest Records to Ever Hit No. 1
It's not often that the pop charts will surprise you. After all, the average consumer in most countries doesn't have time to delve too deep into an artist's catalogue. They don't often pick up on songs that will stand the test of time. They like the ephemera record labels tell them is hot right now.
Nevertheless, every once in a while something will top the charts that doesn't make sense. We're seeing it happen now with "Gangnam Style," and this past week marks 38 years since Mike Oldfield topped the UK album charts with Tubular Bells, a 48-minute instrumental, classically inspired, progressive rock album. An edited-down single even managed to hit No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart after being used as the title theme for The Exorcist.
That sounds weird, but what other strangeness has occurred on the charts? We're sticking to the U.S. here, since covering the entire world would just fill it with the weird bands topping the charts in Norway (where, oddly enough, "Gangnam Style" is currently the No. 1 song).
3. Jethro Tull, A Passion Play (Billboard 200 No. 1, 1973): It was odd when Jethro Tull hit No. 1 the previous year with Thick as a Brick, which, like Tubular Bells, was a 43-minute-long progressive-rock album consisting of one single, unbroken-up song and featured no hit singles. It was even odder when they hit No. 1 again a year later.
2. Pantera, Far Beyond Driven (Billboard 200 No. 1, 1994): Any metalhead and/or Texan remembers this one. Our boys finally made it and made it big. To date it's widely agreed that this album, which at the time was the heaviest Pantera had done (only to be outdone by The Great Southern Trendkill two years later), is probably the heaviest metal album to ever top the charts.
1. Chuck Berry, "My Ding-a-Ling" (Billboard Hot 100 No. 1, 1972): As in the case of the Beach Boys ("Kokomo," 1988), Chuck Berry was long past his prime to be getting No. 1 hits, but what's even weirder is that he managed to hit the charts again with a strange and creepily sexual novelty song. We're not going to say Berry didn't deserve the hit for his esteemed contributions to the history of rock and roll, this just wasn't one of his more dignified ones. Corey Deiterman
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