Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Here's hoping you and yours get to play in any and all reindeer games you desire, sans the prejudiced wait.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Run Run Rudolph

If this doesn't inspire visions of sugarplums, well, the absinthe probably will.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

All Along the Watchtower


Given the enormous amount of competition, it's not easy to even be in the running for fiercest version of "All Along the Watchtower" ever...and yet dadgum if Neil Young and Pearl Jam don't do a pretty swell job of grabbing one of those coveted spots.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Not Ready to Make Nice

Reading all these enthusiastic defenses of the Duck Dynasty guy's right to free speech—true yet, impressively, mistaken at the same time—makes me feel all warm and fuzzy about how pretty much that exact same demographic so vigorously and tireless defended the free speech rights of the Dixie Chicks back when those mouthy lil' gals had the temerity, the cheek, the unmitigated gall to mildly criticize the most powerful man in the world.

Good times.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


I'm really digging the new Republic of Wolves album, No Matter How Narrow. It sounds like...I can't quite get it. Definitely like an American XTC, but there's someone else in there that's so familiar but which I can't quite place. Doesn't matter. They sound like them and they sound great.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Subjectivity and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

So Peter Gabriel, KISS and Nirvana got into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Say, which of these things is not like the other?

(hint hint: of the three artists mentioned,
these two guys are the ones who have
a lot in common)
When a band as polarizing as KISS still is—after all these years—getting discussed, the conversation can get heated. They've got a lot of fans, and generally speaking, if you're a fan of KISS, you're a pretty hardcore fan: in my experience, there aren't a lot of people who like KISS a lot but don't love 'em. When you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way.

I don't quote a Broadway musical offhandedly. While I'm glad that the Hall is taking fan fanaticism seriously, there's an obvious downside to this, as well. To wit: KISS's 2012 album, Monster, sold 59,000 copies its first week. Justin Bieber's 2012 album, Believe, sold 374,000 copies its first week. Would KISS's fans agree that the Beeb belongs in the Hall, since he's so wildly popular? How about if his popularity—which seems like it's about to collapse any second now—keeps up for another 25 years? Or, more accurately, what if in a few more years his popularity plummets to a fraction of its current state for a decade and a half and then, to everyone's shock, his comeback tour is a monster success, and he's able to more or less ride that goodwill for another decade? How's about then?

I'm guessing most KISS fans wouldn't think so. (I'm also guessing Gene Simmons himself would say the Beebs should indeed get in.)

Popularity is a non-inconsequential factor for inclusion to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You can't analyze the importance of Elvis Presley or the Beatles or Michael Jackson or Madonna or U2 without talking about their popularity: it's a big and important part of their legacy. But obviously that's not the only factor, or the Velvet Underground wouldn't be in the Hall, and a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame without the Velvet Underground wouldn't be an entity worthy of serious discussion.

So that brings up the issue of quality. Of good versus not good. Or even good versus bad.

Ah, but when such issues are raised, the "s" word is rarely far behind: subjectivity. "It's all subjective," you'll hear. "What's good to one person may be considered bad by another and so on and so forth."

Which is, of course, absolutely true. And...well...unfortunately, somewhat facile. Even when said in good faith—and for what it's worth, I think it's nearly always said in good faith—it's, if not a strawman, at the very least distracting, adroitly leading attention away from the heart of the matter.

(Whether something is facile or not is, of course, also a matter of complete subjectivity.)

Look, here's the thing: it's the rare person who doesn't believe that some works of art are inherently good or bad. You might like stuff you or others think is bad (hello, Osmonds), and you might dislike things you concede are good (hey, Ginger Baker). But to claim that it's all subjective is to believe that a random Hallmark greeting card is the artistic equal of King Lear, or that "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?" is the artistic equal of Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata, or any given Cathy cartoon strip is the artistic equal of the Sistine Chapel. And I've yet to meet the person who would make those arguments in good faith.

So. There are standards. There is good art and there is bad art—and just because, incidentally, something is bad doesn't mean it's not art. "Lick It Up" may suck, but Gene Simmons' own claim to the contrary, it is art. It's just terrible art.

But if there are standards, what are they? Well...that's where things get a bit trickier, at least for me. I'm not saying, not for a moment, that I'm The Ultimate Arbiter or What Is or Is Not Good™. Far from it. I'm not claiming my personal opinions are right and all others are wrong. I'm simply saying that there is a difference in quality between, say, The Beatles and Nickleback, or between Billy Ray Cyrus and Willie Nelson. And while I'm not the naïve romantic I was in my youth, I also believe there's such a thing as art and that while it often (always?) crosses paths with commerce, that they are not inherently the same thing.

So let's take a look at what the Hall itself says about such matters:
To be eligible for induction as an artist (as a performer, composer, or musician) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the artist must have released a record, in the generally accepted sense of that phrase, at least 25 years prior to the year of induction; and have demonstrated unquestionable musical excellence.  
We shall consider factors such as an artist's musical influence on other artists, length and depth of career and the body of work, innovation and superiority in style and technique, but musical excellence shall be the essential qualification of induction.
Unquestionable musical excellence. Oy. If we accept that there is such a thing as a way to judge unquestionable musical excellence, that'd seem to be an unleapable hurdle for KISS right there. Unquestionable musical capability, sure. They can all play. And to their credit, they seem to rehearse with the kind of obsession rarely seen outside a James Brown band. Paul Stanley's an okay singer, from a technical point-of-view, and Peter Criss actually had a surprisingly soulful voice. But he was and is just a remarkably pedestrian drummer of the sort rarely seen outside the original Eagles. And obviously neither of the others are much of a singer, although Ace Frehley was certainly a fine guitarist, if well short of the Page/Beck level to which he was often and absurdly compared back in the day. (Oh, 1970s, you were a cute 'un.)

As to the second set of criteria, only "influence" and "length of career" would seem to apply, and unfortunately, neither are terribly convincing. Sure, they've been popular for a long time, and good for them, since hard work accounts for much of that. (Nostalgia, knowing what the fans want and willingness to give it to them, and good timing account for most of the rest.)  As for influence, musically they mainly influenced subsequent hair metal bands, with their inspired combining of pop progressions, cadences and melodies out of the ABBA songbook with ostensible metal trappings. So a song that disco-era Rod Stewart could have written is played with explosions and a demon spitting blood and breathing fire. I guess that's an innovation? Unfortunately, it mainly inspired the likes of Poison and Ratt and Warrant and Skid Row.

Perhaps their biggest influence on subsequent artists was their stage show, and that's nearly unimpeachable. Except that all they did was take what Alice Cooper and the New York Dolls had already done and simplify and magnify it for the masses. Which, hey: David Bowie's just warmed over Lou Reed with some Eno and some Philly soul thrown in, right? The difference is that 1) no, he's not but 2) even if he were, he created some brilliant art out of those influences. KISS created enormous bank accounts. Meanwhile, P-Funk were mining more or less the same territory on their stage shows. The difference being, of course, that P-Funk were monster musicians creating some indelible art. So it could have been done. It just wasn't.

Which is why I quoted West Side Story up above. Because more than anything else, KISS is like an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. They both borrow the appurtenances of rock and roll but are really Broadway productions: tons of spectacle, sing-song melodies and the same amounts of professionalism and improvisation. You want a show? You came to the right place. As Gene Simmons said:
"Kiss is a Fourth of July fireworks show with a backbeat."
And what higher praise? What could possibly be more rock and roll than that?

Simmons also said:
"Anyone who tells you they got into rock n' roll for reasons other than girls, fame and money is full of shit." 
Thus, I think, revealing more about himself than he meant to. Not that he's ever hidden his ambitions—more than he's unable to comprehend that anyone else might ever have different motivations. If they claim they do? They're clearly lying. No one could ever transcend the most base desires.

He also said:
"The root of all evil isn't money; rather, it's not having enough money."
"Whoever said 'Money can't buy you love or joy' obviously was not making enough money."
which must have just made his family feel swell.

And most telling of all, he said:
"If someone offered me a billion dollars for the Kiss brand I wouldn't sell. We now have 3,000 licensed products. There's no limit to what Kiss can do. We have everything from condoms to caskets—we'll get you coming and we'll get you going."
Yeah. Hey, did you notice what he didn't mention there? That's right: create a great album.

Look. I liked KISS when I was a kid. In fact, for a while there, I pretty much loved 'em. In college, my band, Übërsphïnctër, covered a couple KISS songs and we were only pretending to be ironic—in reality, it was a hoot. And even now I have some residual fondness for them and can listen to a few of their songs with some pleasure.

But beyond the fact that they were openly, cynically a cash grab with no pretensions towards even attempting to create great art...they simply weren't very good. Their musicianship was admirably adequate, their melodies jejune and their lyrics...oh, their lyrics. Even for a genre and a decade that can often seem fairly horrifying with 20/20 hindsight, KISS's lyrics are repulsive for their level of misogyny. And sadly, they don't seem to have improved significantly with middle-age. Not that that should be especially surprising. After all, this is the band whose leader once proudly ridiculed the very the notion of artistic ambition:
"I'm sick of musicians saying 'I don't care what you want to hear, I'm gonna play whatever I want 'cause I'm an artist.' You're an artist? Paint my house, bitch!"
(When it comes to horrifying misogynistic lyrics, of course, it's not like we're living in paradise at the moment, given that one of our biggest and best stars, Kanye West, released the odious Yeezus just this year, featuring lyrics so vile even KISS would have been taken aback.)

I remember reading a piece once which said that the third album—back when artists were allowed three albums, even if the first two didn't do well—was when you knew whether or not you had a serious artist, one with something to say and staying power. As the saying goes, you have your entire life to write your debut record, and a few months on the road to write the follow-up, hence the typically problematic sophomore album. But then it comes time for the third album, and it's make or break time. Do you really have what it takes? Do you have a The Who Sell Out or Learning to Crawl in you? How's about an Electric Ladyland or Born to Run? A London Calling or Dirty Mind? A Ladies of the Canyon or Fables of the Reconstruction? A Hard Day's Night or Zen Arcade? A The Times They Are a-Changin' or Let It Be?

Let's take a look, then, at the opening tracks off those vital third albums from a trio of this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees.

Here's Peter Gabriel's:

I know something about opening windows and doors
I know how to move quietly to creep across creaky wooden floors
I know where to find precious things in all your cupboards and drawers
Slipping the clippers
Slipping the clippers through the telephone wires
The sense of isolation inspires
Inspires me

It's a brilliant opening to a brilliant album. Creepy in a way rock and roll almost never had been before, Gabriel has the stones to get inside the mind of a stalker terrifying a homeowner, while drummer Phil Collins and producer Hugh Padgham casually invent the sound of drums for the entire coming decade. Later on, the album will do something not dissimilar with a Lee Harvey Oswald-like assassin in "Family Snapshot," visit a patient in a mental institute in the ricepaper sketch "Lead a Normal Life," take a catchy stab at geopolitics in "Games without Frontiers," and what's perhaps a tortured prisoner of war in "I Don't Remember" before, oh, yes, introducing millions of white fans to hero Steve Biko in the overwhelming "Biko." Gabriel went on to much higher heights, commercially, with 1986's So, but he never got better, because you cannot get better than this record.

Then there's this, featuring one of the most famous opening couplets in rock and roll:

Teenage angst has paid off well 
Now I'm bored and old

After changing the pop landscape in a way only a tiny handful of artists ever had before, with Nevermind, Nirvana decided to try going back to their punk roots for one of the most abrasive rock and roll albums—no, Metal Machine Music doesn't count—ever, and a remarkably bold, defiant gesture towards not just their label or the record industry but to a huge percentage of their own fans. As the Rolling Stones and the Who have proven again and again over the past several decades, no matter how much you got in the bank, it's never an easy thing to leave money on the table, yet that was precisely what Nirvana was determined to do with this album. And they did. In Utero sold 15,000,000 copies less than its predecessor. As they suspected it would. And twenty years later, it's widely (if erroneously) considered the best album of the band's career, with blistering rock and roll such as "Heart-Shaped Box" and "Rape Me," not to mention "Radio Friendly Unit Shifter"and "tourette's," alongside gorgeous, heart-rending tracks like "Dumb," "Pennyroyal Tea" and "All Apologies." And the opening cut laid the entire thing bare right from the beginning. Gone were the double- and triple-tracked guitars and the arena-rock friendly drums. In its place were plain, crunchy instruments placed front and center with a minimum of sonic sheen. And the lyrics were straightforward, saying, hey, look at me and my suppurating warts: how you like me now? The entire band always loved pop too much to ever be as punk as they dearly wanted to be...but that's pretty damn punk anyway. And, far more important, it's great.

And then there's this:

I'm feelin' low, no place to go 
And I'm a-thinking that I'm gonna scream 
Because a hotel all alone is not a 
Rock and roll star's dream

But just when I'm about to shut the light and go to bed
A lady calls and asks if I'm too tired or if I'm just too dead for

Room service, baby I could use a meal
Room service, you do what you feel
Room service, I take the pleasure with the pain
I can't say no

My plane's delayed and I'm afraid
They're gonna keep me waiting here till nine
Then a stewardess in a tight blue dress says
"I got the time"

But just as I'm about to take my coat and get my fly
She says "Oh please," she's on her knees
And one more time before I leave I get some

Room service, baby I could use a meal
Room service, you do what you feel
Room service, I take the pleasure with the pain
I can't say no, no

In my home town, I'm hangin' 'round
With all the ladies treatin' me real good
A sweet sixteen lookin' hot and mean says
I wish you would

But just as I'm about to tell her "Yes, I think I can"
I see her dad, he's getting mad
All the time he knows that I'm in need of

Room service, baby I could use a meal
Room service, you do what you feel
Room service, I take the pleasure with the pain
I can't say no

Room service, well maybe baby, room service


Nice job, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Well done.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

First Ballot

So the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, while finally nominating the great and influential Replacements this year, still did not find them worthy for induction.

Such a damn shame. Peter Gabriel, Nirvana and the Replacements. Three of my all-time favorites. Would've been awesome to see all three go in together. Especially considering the influence that this:

...had on this:

Oh. And KISS got in (of course they did), as did Cat Stevens.

Cat Stevens.


And I suppose I should say "Who cares" to all of this, right? To follow the lead of Johnny Rotten and remind everyone what a joke the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame is.

Only, well, I just don't believe that. I love the idea of a Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame existing. Just love it. I love that someone has thought to quantify the unquantifiable and label so many deserving artists (and yes, some undeserving and, yes, some OH MY GOD HOW DID THIS HAPPEN???????) ...


...sorry. Where was I? Yeah, I do love the idea of so many deserving artists being worthy of the label "Hall of Famer."  Particularly in a business where stats don't always show the true import and impact and, well, greatness of a band or artist. I really appreciate that the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame exists. I just think it's a damn shame that one band is not in.

A Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame without The Replacements is like the Football Hall of Fame without Gayle Sayers. Neither had particularly long careers. Sayers never played on a winning team; The Mats never had a gold album. Both went away in what should have been their primes. And both, when they were around and doing their thing at the height of their game(s), were breathtaking to watch. Exhilarating. In sports parlance one final time, both changed the way the game is played. For good. And for better. Sayers is a member of that exclusive club; he was a first-ballot member. The Replacements should have been. Only aren't. Damn.

So. Good for KISS, I guess (but, man, they were really not that good, even in their crazy-popular prime). Good for Linda Ronstadt and Hall & Oates, who brought plenty to their respective tables. Good for Nirvana, whose brief and astounding presence resonates still. GREAT for Peter Gabriel, so long deserving of the honor.

I don't hate the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame. Not one bit. But for as long as that building stands in Cleveland and The Replacements are not honored inside of it, something is missing. And it will always make me a little sad.

"Don't break your neck when you fall down laughing."

Friday, December 13, 2013

Glen Campbell, shredder

Been on a tiny Glen Campbell kick of late—tiny because as I really only know his half-dozen or so greatest hits. But I've long known he's a killer guitarist—but have never really seen any evidence of it. Not that I'm doubting, it's just that, you know: it's one thing to learn that Jimi Hendrix was an amazing guitarist and another thing to actually watch video of him playing.

Yet while there are thousands of Glen Campbell videos on YouTube, most of them are like this:

or this:

Which, hey, groovy. I unapologetically enjoy me some Bread and goodness knows I'm interested in Toni Tennille's love, muskrat or otherwise. (I'm pretty sure she's saying the final four words direct to me, for instance.) And he does get some sweet playing off there—if you can stomach the dialogue—but when you're looking for evidence of Glen Campbell's abilities as a shredder, well, neither of those are going to help you out much.

This, on the other hand...

It's still not really what I was looking for, but, yeah. Damn, yo. Boy could play.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hold On

I more or less missed Wilson Phillips. I knew of them, thanks to Rolling Stone, but when they were hitting it big I was finishing my first senior year of college and living in a house without cable, so no music television, and pop radio wasn't really a part of my life at that point. (Few things were, aside from beer, comics, Springsteen, R.E.M. and my girlfriend.) ((You'll note schoolwork was nowhere on that list, which may explain why I needed a second senior year of college.))

But "Hold On" was big enough that even I heard it, even if I barely noticed that I did. So the first time I really truly remember paying any attention to it was during its utterly glorious inclusion in "Bridesmaids." Its use was fantastic, but then, of course, so was the song.

I've never liked self-help songs. Take Billy Joel's "Tell Her About It," for instance. (Please.)

While I liked his An Innocent Man album, in general—although his dancing here makes Springsteen's in "Dancing in the Dark" look practically Michael Jacksoneque (and Rodney Dangerfield's acting makes his own turn in Caddyshack appear Laurence Olivieronian—this one track always struck me as an only slightly less unctuous "Dear Alex & Annie" sermon.

(Good golly, how adorbs is Annie? [And thank goodness she and Alex had their names on their shirts—otherwise, how could we ever have told them apart? Also, and this is true, DT dressed like Alex until he was nearly 20. Sadly, it's still his best look ever.] I can't believe "Dear Alex & Annie" was created by the great Lynn Ahrens, writer of many of the best Schoolhouse Rock songs, as well as, later, several major Broadway shows. But we don't care about Broadway. Schoolhouse Rock, on the other hand...)

Which is why (heresy alert) I've never cared for one of the more beloved songs amongst my cohorts, by one of my very favorite artists ever.

I like the verses. I like the music. I like how attractive both singers are. I even like the philosophy. But the lyrics to the chorus just set my teeth on edge and the preciousness of Bush's vocals, which can be so effective in other contexts, Not for me. The entire thing, together, is just not nearly removed enough from dear "Dear Alex and Annie." It's the only song on So I skip every. single. time. I'd take ten "We Do What We're Told (Milgram's 37)"s, or even a dozen "This Is the Picture (Excellent Birds)"s over a single "Don't Give Up." I'm a monster, I know.

Which is why I was surprised to hear this cover of "Hold On" and discover it wasn't like biting on tinfoil. It was...well, it was awesome.

Why does this work so well? What's the secret? Is it the seriousness of the vocals? Is it that the bar is set lower? Is it that it's got no pretensions—it's not a groundbreaking Serious Artist performing a Message Song, or a wannabe badass rocker hearkening back to his late 50s/early 60s roots for a lark? Is it just that it's just a great take on a fun pop song?

I'd reckon it's all the above. And most of all, it's got the best melody and a good beat and you can dance to it. And that's usually the trump card, after all.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer Mambo

This is awful.

See? Didn't I tell you?

Hm? Why did I post it, then? Well, because I wanted to make DT listen to it, so I wouldn't be alone in my misery. Worked, too.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Come Together

I'm always surprised to rediscover what a fine harmony vocalist Bruce Springsteen is. You wouldn't think it'd be an especially well-used weapon in his arsenal, given how long he's been the unquestioned leader of his own band and/or a solo artist. But homeboy can harmonize.

Apparently, Rod Stewart and Elton John were supposed to perform this, but Stewart wasn't able to make the show, so at the last minute, the producers asked Springsteen...who declined. They went to Rose, who then talked Springsteen into it. Not damn bad for no rehearsal. It was also the last time Rose performed in public for six years. Pretty okay way to go out.

And who in 1988 would have expected to ever see the singers of "Welcome to the Jungle" and "One Step Up" happily performing together?

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Look, I'm human. I like this—how could I not? Catchy pop song by three sisters with a cool origin story.

But I don't get the constant name-checking of classic Fleetwood Mac. There's some Mac there, of course—it'd be surprising if there weren't—but to my ears it's very clearly filtered through the much more recent and much much direct influence of Wilson Phillips. Sure, both have a classic SoCal sound, but there's still a big difference, and this is much more the latter than the former.

Which isn't to say it's not great stuff. 'cuz it is. The Clash is great stuff. So is Pink Floyd. So is Madonna. But that doesn't make it correct to say that any of the three sound like either the first or second great Miles Davis Quintet. 

Friday, December 6, 2013


It was February 11, 1990. Early on a Sunday morning, as I recall. I was sitting in my college apartment watching CNN, wanting to see it for myself that the unimaginable news was true. Nelson Mandela was going to be freed.

A few weeks earlier my roommate and I had gone to see Donald Woods, the prominent former South African journalist who had to flee the country with his family for speaking out so forcibly against apartheid, speak on campus and we met him. My roommate asked him, "What do you think will happen if Nelson Mandela dies in prison?"

Woods, though, was adamant that would not happen. That the government would not let it happen. But I don't think we believed him. To us the idea of Mandela going free, being free, was just unthinkable. It seemed he would be a prisoner forever, that this was a wrong that could never be righted.

Then came February 11, 1990. In those early morning hours. Those images on the TV screen. That proud, thin black man with white hair and a weary smile, emerging from darkness. Unreal.

I was an English major. Writing was all I did then; articles for the school's daily newspaper, commentaries, short stories, poems, even a one-act play. So I got up from the TV, after witnessing this staggering event, and I wrote.

This is what I wrote:

February 11, 1990


Remove the chain running heart to fist
and walk.

Break the light with a silent shadow.

All you’ve known forever
is time.
Now, time is what you breathe,


Face the season-burnt country
so long your longing,
wasted by earth-scorched tears
running rivers through the fire of your soul.

The change you only dreamed
is before you now, screaming.
Sweeping a mournful hand
across the dust of shattered bones and dreams.

Biko is gone.
Botha is gone.
Sobukwe is gone..
They all turn mixed eyes to you.


Ready to create.
New friends – new enemies.
New vision – new blindness.
New triumphs – new tragedies.

But more than all,


Mandela's death yesterday really couldn't have come as a shock to many. He was 95, he'd been sick. But watching more images on TV last night, those of people holding signs outside his house, shouting their appreciation with even a sense of joy for all he was able to do, put me in mind of this: 

This is the way the great man deserved to pass on. Not violently and young like King, without ever getting to see the true results of his heroism. Not locked away in some horrible prison, as we thought he would remain forever all those years ago. But like this. Safe. Old. Surrounded by people who loved and cared for him, and with an entire country celebrating him outside, a country he had saved. That he had lived to save, to see change before his very eyes, to see his wildest dreams realized.

It's hard to imagine anyone being more deserving of the gift of long life, of old age, more than the man they called Tata. Or "Father."

This is a music blog, I know. So here is some music. The first a stunningly beautiful song that was the theme song to the not-quite-but-nearly-great movie about Steven Biko and Donald Woods from 1987, Cry Freedom. This played during the film's closing credits and it caused me to go out and buy the movie soundtrack within just a few days. (It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Song that year. It lost out to "I've Had The Time Of My Life." I have nothing at all to say about that.)

Anyway, that's the first song. The second is one of defiance and protest from the same year, which became a hit and at the time became a rallying cry. One whose demand seemed, again, impossible when it was released. But it wasn't. Nelson Mandela proved capable of the impossible.

Rest in Peace, Tata.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

South of the Grapevine

Outstanding...almost. The parts that work are pretty great but the riff really needs to move to another chord when Marvin does for it to have really taken off. Then again, that's just life in the mashup world, and it does add a certain tension. (Since both these songs are oh so lacking in tension.)

Actually, I think the section with the backing vocals is the most effective. Still, if nothing else, it highlights that a voice like Marvin's seemingly works irrespective of genre or context, and illustrates the obvious yet (these days) easily overlooked blues roots of metal.

(H/T: the killer Dangerous Minds