Paul McCartney's Wonderful, Bizarre McCartney II
Classic Rock Corner
Paul McCartney's set lists are largely built on his Beatles work, making his Minute Maid Park show an historic chance to hear one-half of one of the greatest songwriting duos of all time play some of the most cherished musical works of the past century.
But out of everything The Cute One has touched musically the past 50 or so years, nothing seems to compare to his third proper solo record, 1980's McCartney II. For people who couldn't get down with the earnestness of Wings, or who were waking to New Wave and post-punk around this time, this album was a bright and shining anomaly.
It also makes a great companion piece to other major releases of the time, including the Talking Heads' Remain in Light, David Bowie's Lodger and Roxy Music's Manifesto.
If you ever thought that McCartney was a saccharine grinner and not as innovative or weird as his former bandmates, you should take a look at McCartney II.
"I was fed up with formally playing records. I just wanted to hire a machine," McCartney said in some of the promo material for the album's 2011 reissue.
For one, if you were to play some of this album, unlabeled, for your average uninformed indie-rock listener today, they would probably name a dozen current groups — including Battles, Animal Collective and the Flaming Lips — that could have recorded tracks like "Front Parlour," "Darkroom" or the awkwardly named "Frozen Jap."
Paul McCartney's November 14 concert at Minute Maid Park took place too late for this print edition. See Rocks Off online Thursday, November 15, for a review.
Only In Houston
King's X Drummer Jerry Gaskill Loses Home in Hurricane Sandy
Rocks Off readers of a certain age will fondly remember Jerry Gaskill as the drummer from Houston's pioneering proto-grunge/metal band King's X. Perhaps many of you, like us, even had tickets to the trio's show earlier this year at Warehouse Live that was canceled after Gaskill had a heart attack in February. More bad news came after Hurricane Sandy passed through the East Coast.
Gaskill's childhood friend, producer Ed Frost, lives 15 minutes away from Gaskill and the drummer's new wife, Julie, in Highlands, New Jersey. Frost's neighbors still don't have electricity, but many others no longer have homes. The newlyweds are staying with family for now.
"The takeaway is they're not Metallica," says Frost of King's X. "They're working musicians. They have to work or they don't eat."
Frost wanted to do something to help, so he did. He donated some money and started up a Web site, www.GiveForward.com/JerryGaskill. By day four, the amount had reached 58 percent of the $25,000 goal.
"I'm speechless," says Frost. "I'm trying to write thank-you notes as I go, but there's over 180 donors so far."
Frost worries that these giant hurricanes happen more often now that the weather is different than it used to be. A ten-foot storm surge brought more than four feet of water into the Gaskills' house in nearby Seaside Heights. Their whole block is likely to be condemned — in fact, the entire Seaside Heights music scene is washed away. CREG LOVETT
Only In Houston
What Was Your Favorite Concert at the Summit?
Rocks Off would like to thank Jon Harvey of Houston (@oompahead) for alerting us via Twitter to the fact that on November 7, 1975, when the author was a few weeks removed from turning one year old, the sports and entertainment arena then known as the Summit opened in Greenway Plaza.
Besides basketball, hockey, wrestling, bull riding and the stray circus, for almost 30 years the Summit (renamed Compaq Center in 1998) was about the only place in Houston and southeast Texas to see the biggest names in pop, rock, country, R&B, hip-hop and more at shows largely produced by Live Nation forerunner Pace Concerts. According to a 2003 Houston Business Journal article, the arena cost $18 million to build.
The first concert at the new Summit was The Who on November 20, 1975, the opening night of the band's North American tour behind The Who by Numbers ("Squeezebox"); some footage survives in 1994's Thirty Years of Maximum R&B box set. The Summit's archives on concert wiki setlist.fm run to almost 40 pages, including Paul McCartney's "Wings Over America" stop the next year. There you'll also find two nights of the Rolling Stones' "Bridges to Babylon" tour in 1998 and lots more.
Personally, my best (and only) concert at the Summit was U2's "Elevation" tour in April 2001. It was incredible and exhilarating, especially opener PJ Harvey. But about 24 hours after we posted this article, Rocks Off had already received more than 30 reader comments about their favorite shows. We thought we'd share a few. CHRIS GRAY
Dawgnme: "Prince — Purple Rain tour. Six sold-out concerts in January of '85, I think it was, and I was there to witness all 16,000 of the half-naked, camisole-wearing, weed-smoking freaks on the Friday, Sunday and Monday-night shows. Absolutely blew my twelfth-grade mind."
Thenonymous: "The 1991 Benson & Hedges Bluesfest was one of the greatest single days of live music in the history of the city. I think a ticket was less than $40, and it came with all the free cigarette samples you could stuff in your pockets. Best of all, it looked like there were only about 4,000 people there, so you could pretty much sit wherever you wanted to."
HTownChowDown: "Queen, with Billy Squier opening in 1982. Remarkable show."
bibulb: "I was at the Police/UB40 show in 1983 for the 'Synchronicity' tour, and also Peter Gabriel on the 'Secret World' tour in 1993. And approximately eleventy-zillion 'Holiday on Ice/Ice Capades/Disney on Ice/Sesame Street on Ice' shows in the late '70s. I don't think those are quite in the same league, though."
steveK77536: "My favorite was an Eric Clapton concert that I did not attend. I did attend the Johnnie Johnson (played piano for Chuck Berry) concert at the Satellite Lounge the next night. I learned that Johnson had come in a day early for the Lounge concert and got a call at his room. Clapton wanted to know if he wanted to sit in that night at the Summit. So he did. So 10,000-plus folks instead of a couple of hundred [saw Johnson]. Pretty classy of Clapton (funny he didn't call me, I have a guitar). But I bet I got a better show."
@oompahead: "My favorite shows were the two nights Guns N' Roses and Soundgarden played and the Benson & Hedges Bluesfest show in '91 — John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Johnny Winter, Etta James and the Fabulous Thunderbirds all in one show. I also saw Andrew Dice Clay there at the peak of his popularity. (Always makes me smile when I drive by Lakewood now.)"
Giving Thanks for New Local Rap
It's almost Thanksgiving time. Election season has ended, and your bellies and ears are itching to pull in more new music before the end of the year. Frankly, Houston's rap contingent has been putting out mixtapes and singles so fast that if you happen to sleep one day, you might miss six of them.
Dante Higgins, Rhymes For Months Trillogy: This is the third edition of Higgins's Rhymes For... series and works much like the last two: Plenty of topics, sharp humor and wit, and "holy shit, did you hear that?" moments.
Best Track: Depends on your mood. Want absolute bar destruction between three Texas rappers? Check the title track, where Doughbeezy (of bald-fade legend) bats leadoff, Propain swings for Killa Cal Wayne and Higgins bats cleanup, literally keeping his stamp on the "Best Lyricist in Houston" title. Extra point to Beezy for enunciating the hell out of "flyer and Piper."
hasHBrown, Rap Mayor II: Landslide: hasH will always have to contend with his producer alter ego in terms of who's better. Some contend his beats are better than his bars; he contends otherwise. What separated the first inauguration of Rap Mayor and the second one (released days before Halloween) is quite simple: hasH is feeling even more pissed off and slighted than usual. Hence everybody is given a snack-pack of tracks, whether they be freestyles, original cuts, remixes, snippets of his upcoming 1994 project or instrumentals. It might be Houston's first à la carte rap release in quite some time.
Best Track: "Southside Virtuoso": Out of all the freestyles that use New York thoughts — as in mostly Jay-Z — this one feels like 1998, swallowed into a vacuum where Maze feat. Frankie Beverly and Charlie Wilson all had a jam session. Astroworld gets a mention, as does Mo City, and hasH sways with every punch line.
Hollywood FLOSS, The Legend Continues: Dude, it's a mixtape cover made from a Legend of Zelda cartridge. ZELDA. That alone would merit mention here, but the true fun lies in the fact that TLC is essentially Hollywood going East Coast, with features from Termanology and Thee Tom Hardy, while also making his Texas roots known with locals Nosaprise and Fat Tony on board. Plus, Chris Rockaway is here for plenty of the production, so not only can Legend be quickly digested, it can be beloved as well.
Best Track: "Ridin' Feelin' Good." The '70s blaxploitation feel of the claps and guitar waahs meshes easily with Fat Tony's trip through childhood, but FLOSS makes it more than known that it's his track by slowing his flow down to a whisper and begging the question, "Where the hoes at?" Mitt Romney asked this question when digging through his binders Tuesday night, trust. BRANDO
The 5 Best Songs From The Twilight Soundtracks
Like most writers who aren't named Stephenie Meyer, I find the Twilight novels an abhorrent abomination and a great offense to the written word. I assume the movies are the same to serious filmmakers. But Twilight presents me with a unique problem. Having one foot in the world of writing and literature, I feel compelled to hate anything and everything associated with it. But with the other foot in the world of music, I have to admit: The movie soundtracks are totally awesome.
Way back when the first Twilight film was announced in 2008, it came as a shock that legitimate artists were on the soundtrack. I mean, how could that be possible? Shouldn't it be filled with the kind of garbage that I presume the fans of the movies would listen to? But now it's just something to accept. Twilight soundtracks almost always contain some great songs by some of the best artists around today, such as these five.
Perry Farrell, "Go All the Way (Into the Twilight)": The Jane's Addiction front man goes electro-pop for this single from the first Twilight soundtrack. Sounding vaguely like one of Nine Inch Nails' more accessible recent singles, it's just too undeniably catchy to overlook. The big single from that soundtrack ended up being Paramore's "Decode," but for those of us turned off by that band's hackneyed attempts at mainstream emo, Farrell's song is the hit.
Iron and Wine, "Flightless Bird, American Mouth": This folkie waltz also comes from the first Twilight soundtrack. It appears in the movie during Bella and Edward's prom, and while I can assure you there isn't a school in the country that actually plays Iron and Wine songs at proms or other dances, it is nevertheless one of Samuel Beam's prime cuts. Incidentally, it showed up again later as a wedding remix on the soundtrack for Breaking Dawn Part 1 (2011), a stripped-down orchestral version that wouldn't have sounded out of place in a smoky club in the 1950s.
Beck & Bat for Lashes, "Let's Get Lost": You know you're doing something right if you manage to get Beck involved with your project. Aside from being a great musician, he's just the pinnacle of cool. Here he duets with Bat for Lashes on a track that could have easily been on Björk's Post. You can hear the Björk influence in Natasha Khan's vocal performance, yet she makes the track her own with a twist of Kate Bush in her style. And when Beck shows up with his verse, you know this one's a winner.
Thom Yorke, "Hearing Damage": From the New Moon soundtrack (2009), this single from the Radiohead front man features some of Yorke's heaviest electronic exploration since his band's seminal album Kid A. It serves as a distinct precursor to their latest album, The King of Limbs, and features Yorke's trademark ethereal vocals. Who knows what it has to do with Twilight, but I'm just glad to have more Thom Yorke to go around, period.
Battles, "The Line": Battles has to be one of the weirdest bands to break into the mainstream in years. Apparently, to get this on the Eclipse soundtrack (2010), Battles had to re-record it three times, with edits suggested by the film's producers. You can really tell, because this is a far more accessible-sounding Battles. Regardless, it maintains all of the group's charm, with a break reminiscent of Animal Collective and guitar squeals in the background taken straight from a Scary Monsters-era Bowie track, which eventually turns into an extended polka-rock fusion outro. COREY DEITERMAN
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II is in theaters this Friday.