This week’s 500 began with a snippet of “Running with the Devil,” so my mood was improved immediately. (Thanks, gracious editor K?). Let’s get started.
- Buddy Holly and the Crickets – The ‘Chirping’ Crickets
Kyle does a great job of explaining how talented and influential Buddy Holly was and still is. He helped bring rock ‘n roll to the masses while writing exquisite pop songs. On this record, there are at least four classics with “Oh Boy!,” “Not Fade Away,” “Maybe Baby” and “That’ll Be the Day.” They do all sound like they are from the 1950s as Bennett notes, but they do not sound dated.
Holly is from Lubbock, Texas which by all accounts is not the most glamorous place to have grown up. Smack dab in the middle of West Texas, the hub city still managed to produce some amazing musicians. The Flatlanders were a legendary early 1970s country band that were almost a myth for two decades before being rediscovered in the 1990s when their aptly titled album More a Legend than a Band was re-released. The three members, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely and Butch Hancock, all have had much success as solo artists as well. Terry Allen is a super eccentric artist who also put out one of the best country albums ever in Lubbock (on Everything) in 1979. Other Lubbock musicians include pedal-steel player Lloyd Maines, his daughter Natalie of the Dixie Chicks, blues guitarist Delbert McClinton and the Godfather of West Texas music Tommy Hancock.
Returning to Buddy, my favorite nugget about him has to do with the song “Buddy Holly’s Brille” by the German punk band Die Ärzte. On the 1986 album Im Schatten der Ärzte they posed the question of where Holly’s glasses are today and that if you could find them would you have magical music powers. Here is the band performing the song live in 1987.
And we also can’t forget Weezer’s “Buddy Holly,” which you can listen to here. It’s a great video.
Finally, The Buddy Holly Story movie from 1978 is a definite must watch, but I still think it is weird that Gary Busey plays Buddy Holly. Yes, that Gary Busey.
- U2 – Boy
U2’s debut album is one of my favorites from the 1980s. The opening sound on “I Will Follow” puts Edge’s guitar sound right at the forefront. Growing up, a lot of bands played U2 songs, and the guitar parts never seemed too difficult for them. Nonetheless, when you hear that sound, you immediately know it is the Edge and U2. Bono is also pretty cool. As BGS’s own Brad Blackburn remarked on Twitter: “angry Bono is the best Bono.” The overall sound on the album is a little thin, but the songs come through. “I Will Follow,” “Out of Control,” “Stories for Boys,” “A Day without Me” and “The Electric Co.” are still some of my favorites from the Dublin band. Listening to what Kyle and Bennett said about it not really grabbing them compared to the band’s later work made me recognize that this record might be specially tied to a time in my life for me. Indeed, I have been thinking about my first high school girlfriend while typing this.
- Van Halen –Van Halen
Man, this album is so powerful, and I discovered it when I was around 13 or so. “Running with the Devil” has to be the best opening song on a hard rock album of all time. I played this album a lot on my 1980s Walkman. This band was the quintessential Sex, Drugs and Rock n’ Roll band. David Lee Roth was the perfect tight jeans, über-sexed, long haired front man. Classically-trained Eddie Van Halen is an amazing guitar player, who was also a perfect Rock Star. “Running with the Devil” grabs you by the throat from the opening note, but then track two is the epic guitar solo “Eruption.” As Kyle and Bennett note, they put all their cards in early on this album. And the millions of guitar players who have tried to recreate “Eruption” can testify to this. I like this album. Drop the needle on side one and see if you can resist it.
- Minutemen – Doubles Nickels on The Dime
Around 1985, my tennis coach made me a hardcore mixtape. It included the Circle Jerks, the Dead Kennedys, Romeo Void, and “This Ain’t No Picnic” from Minutemen. But I never listened to the band beyond that one amazing song. About five years ago, I heard it mentioned somewhere and decided to get a copy. I was blown away. I was sad that I had missed out on it all those years, but it reminds me of how I view music and art in general. Once it is created, it is floating out there in the ether waiting to be accessed. Yes, I try to keep up with the latest releases, but I feel no guilt in having missed out on something. It is always there, especially in a time of digital music, and it was still able to move me 25 years after it was originally released in 1984.
Kyle does a good job of explaining the double album, Hüsker Dü connection. Basically, the Minutemen weren’t going to be outdone by the boys from Minneapolis who were coming out with their double album Zen Arcade. I am happy this got a positive review on The 500. Hearing Bennett and Kyle discover albums like this is why I started listening and why I am now writing my reactions every week.
The singer D. Boone died too early in a 1987 van crash, but they left a mark on the world of music. You should check out the documentary on the band, We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen, which is available in full on youtube.
Finally, I’ll close by simply saying that I am a Tom Watts1 Waits agnostic, which confuses people to no end. I do like his debut album Closing Time, but I most love him in the Jim Jarmusch movies Mystery Train and Coffee and Cigarettes. I recognize it’s a me and not Tom problem. Back off, folks!
What’s currently on my iPhone: The re-mastered re-release of the self-titled debut from Clap Your Hand Say Yeah, Restless from Terranova and Lifestyles of the Laptop Café from The Other People Place.
Listening note: I am a DJ for the Clemson college radio station WSBF. Every Tuesday, including today, I am spinning my favorite 1980s college rock songs from 3-5 pm ET. It is only for the next two weeks, but if you would like an archive link, let me know in the comments or on Twitter. Tune in online @ WSBF.