Friday, December 11, 2009

Keller Williams Review -

I just reviewed a performance of Keller Williams, the multi-instrumentalist virtuoso hippie one-man-band. His acoustic guitar playing is astounding, but some of the effect is lost to his flippy-dippy vocals and silly demeanor. Regardless, he is unapologetic about his musical personality, and wears it with pride on his sleeve. And whether you like his songs or not, the man can rip it up on acoustic. Here's my take on his show:

Keller Williams :: 11.21.09 :: Great American Music Hall :: San Francisco, CA

To give a sense of his stage skills, here are two very different clips which showcase different sides of his performance. This version of "Best Feeling" showcases his pure instrumental virtuosity, and is also one of his better songs:

On the flip-side of the spectrum, this version of "More Than A Little" is a great example of how he uses his looping skills to lay down some funky dance-party beats:

All and all, the guy puts on one hell of a show.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ornette Coleman Review -

Recently I was lucky enough to catch a true legend perform in concert. Ornette Coleman has blazed his own singular musical path for 50 years now, and has no peers when it comes to the music he plays. He defines his musical approach through the term harmolodics, a musical philosophy which is not bound by chords, key or time signatures, and has no tonal center whatsoever.

Listening to Ornette's type of music is often jarring and off-putting at first, but once you open up to it, it is mind-blowing in its expressiveness. Here's my review of the show for Jambase:

Ornette Coleman :: 11.08.09 :: Davies Symphony Hall :: San Francisco, CA

To get a sense of what a powerful experience seeing this man live is, here is a clip of him performing at Bonnaroo 2007. You either get it, or you don't. If you don't, you're missing out:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Brit-Rock Mullets of the 70s

The unfortunate hairstyle commonly referred to as a "mullet" is commonly known to have reached its fashionable peak in the 1980s. And though this fashion abomination may be most commonly associated with clueless hicks and douchebags, few may know of it's curious beginnings - particularly in Britain during the early to mid-1970s.

Granted, over the years there have been countless other rock and roll fashion tragedies worth mentioning (just look at this sad, pathetic sight), but the mullet's prevalence amongst England's rock and roll royalty (approx. 1972-1976) is a phenomenon too widespread to not warrant a closer examination. Around this time, a particular proto-mullet was sprouting from Brit Rocker dome-pieces left and right, making for a blimey brotherhood of bitchin' hair that was probably cool at the time (but unconceivable to us in 2009). These brave men were trailblazers ahead of their time, and helped to make the world safe for mulleters everywhere throughout the 80s. They rocked their Brit-mullets with gusto, and pulled them off, sometimes. Here is a list of said Brits:

Faces-era Rod Stewart

Faces-era Ronnie Wood

era Keith Richards in 1972

Genesis-era Phil Collins (minus 50 points for balding mullet)

Wings-era Paul and Linda McCartney (what the fuck, Paul? I mean, really.)

And finally, the man who's proto-mullet broke down more doors towards mullet acceptance than all of the previous rockers combined....

Ziggy era David Bowie, 'nuff said. He actually makes it cool, somehow, even today. Not sure how, but Bowie pulls it off. Good job, Bowie.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Toto's "Africa" - I Bless the Rains!

For a period in my life back in '07 or so, it seemed like Toto's "Africa" was following me around everywhere I went. Granted, I went through a phase where I was thoroughly obsessed with the song and its accompanying album, Toto IV (probably due to my discovery of Toto through the Yacht Rock series). This obsession started off as ironic, and gradually morphed into a genuine, authentic love for the song, which to my ears still exudes sonic and melodic perfection. The Toto boys were the master craftsmen of studio work in the early 80s, and it is no coincidence that Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson, in their plotting to rule the world, recruited them to help with production on Thriller.

My obsession aside, it got a little weird there for a while. I was hearing "Africa" on the radio way more than I had ever remembered hearing it before. This reached a head when I took a vacation to Jamaica. In all the cabs we took around the island, the radio played dancehall and reggae music almost exclusively. But then, in the midst of all this Jamaican music, while riding in the back seat of a cab to Treasure Beach watching the sunset, the only American song I've heard all week starts playing - "da-da-da-da-da-da-da-daaaa..." Who knew that Jamaica loves Toto? I was amused, if not a bit spooked.

So the vacation ends, and I take my plane home to Boston. Plane lands, I walk to baggage claim, wait for my luggage. Amidst the terminal echoes and P.A. announcements, the carousel turns, my bags round the corner, and the ceiling speakers go "da-da-da-da-da-da-da-daaaa..." What the fuck?!!

It must be noted that this is one of the few songs that I can listen to hundreds of times, and it simply does not get old. All my weird run-ins with "Africa" have made my day a little better, resulting in happy sing-alongs.

And so I was super-psyched to stumble across this version yesterday by a Slovenian acapella group. This is awesome and must be watched, even if you don't like acapella. It's fairly ridiculous, as they take themselves a little too seriously, but check out their take on the synthesizer solo at 4:43. Love it!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Infected Mushroom Review -

Here is a review that steps outside the comfort zone, as it is of a band that I don't particularly love. The Infected Mushroom show was a particularly intense mind-fuck barrage of beats and noise, and as I'm not a raver at heart, I couldn't truly get into it. Regardless, it was an interesting musical experience. And a note to you all: Psy-Trance is not for the faint of heart. It is utterly relentless.

Infected Mushroom :: 07.17.09 :: The Regency Ballroom :: San Francisco, CA

Friday, July 3, 2009

MJ On The Brain!

So I don't know about you, but ever since I heard of MJ's death last week, I've had some serious case of MJ obsession. It seems like the world feels the same way, as his albums are currently taking up 13 of the 15 top spots in Amazon's bestselling music list as I write this.

It's been consistent for me lately that whatever I'm doing, be it working or grocery shopping or whatever, that my thoughts always eventually drift back to MJ, like they're being pulled by a super-funky magnet of some kind. I've found myself browsing the internets late into the night for breaking MJ news, or footage from his final rehearsal. I can't help it, I've been consumed by the man, the concept of MJ. In terms of cultural magnitude, his death is going to be right up there with Kennedy, Elvis, and Princess Di's. We'll always remember where we were when we heard that MJ died. This is a big fucking deal.

The man was, and will always be peerless. Dude's music is blasting from every other car that passes on the street these days, and will dominate most DJs playlists for months to come. But it seems like it's always the obvious, super-saturated cuts that are getting spun, i.e. "Billie Jean," etc. In response to this, in my current obsessive MJ mode, I've made an Essential Mix of super-fresh MJ Deep Cuts for y'all to download and get down to. You probably have heard some of these songs, but most will still be fresh and new to your psyche, and offer optimal danceability as a result.

An MJ Mix - The Deep Cuts

1. Jackson 5 - I Want You Back (Z-Trip Mix)
2. Jacksons - Lovely One
3. Jacksons - Give It Up
4. Jackson 5 - Stop! (The Love You Save)
5. Jackson 5 - Darling Dear
6. Jacksons - Everybody
7. Jacksons - Blame It On The Boogie
8. Jacksons - Your Ways
9. Paul McCartney w/ MJ - Say Say Say
10. Michael Jackson - Come Together
11. Jacksons - Walk Right Now
12. Michael Jackson - P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)

Download Link

Friday, June 26, 2009

RIP Michael Jackson - Goodbye, Sweet Prince.

No matter how freaky he got, MJ was always the fucking MAN. It goes without saying that no one can ever hold a candle to the raw talent that oozed from every pore in this guy's body.

But it's hard not to see MJ's life as a tragic one. Growing up in the public eye in front of a camera since the age of seven, he was deprived of any kind of real childhood, and so he spent his entire adult life obsessed with recapturing his lost childhood as a result. However bizarre he got, it could always be attributed to the fact that he was a victim of his own celebrity.

But putting that aside, he was simply the best at what he did. Dude felt the funk straight to the core, and could sing and dance better than ANY man, period. He was fuckin' MJ, for god's sake...

In tribute, here's his performance from the 1988 Grammy awards, back when he was still at the top of his game. The first song is lip-synced, but it honestly doesn't matter a bit, because "The Way You Make Me Feel" is just an excuse for MJ to bust out the hardcore-nasty show-stopping moves: he's all like, "Check this sick shit out, America!" Then MJ gets all gospel on our ass like only he can with "Man in the Mirror." It seem like the first half of this is lip-synced as well, but they turn his mic on right when the gospel choir comes out, and he proceeds to preach it like Sunday morning and bring the funkin' house down. Be sure to watch this one 'till the end.

Come on, how can you not love this guy? You have no soul if you don't.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ozric Tentacles Review -

Next we have a review I wrote of the recent Ozric Tentacles show in San Francisco. Most have never heard of these guys, who are criminally underrated kings of space/prog/trance rock. Their music will melt your face clean off your skull, and it is also beautiful. Ed Wynne (pictured left) is a guitar god in every sense of the word.

Ozric Tentacles :: 05.27.09 :: The Independent :: San Francisco, CA

For those who have never heard said glorious music, here are links to the band's monster 1990 album Erpland for your listening pleasure. It is a great place to start if you are new to the band:

Link 1
Link 2
Password: sakalli

Monday, April 27, 2009

Concert Review Triumvate -

We have assembled inside this ancient and insane theater to propagate our lust for life and flee the swarmy wisdom of the streets.

- Jim Morrison, "Ghost Song"

Here is a threesome of concert reviews of mine that have been posted on Jambase in the past month or so. They all were fantastic shows, all for different reasons:

Karl Denson's Tiny Universe - 3/21/09

Steve Kimock Crazy Engine w/ Melvin Seals - 3/28/09

Derek Trucks Band feat. Carlos Santana - 4/15/09

And always remember what Frank Zappa said once:

Information is not knowledge
Knowledge is not wisdom
Wisdom is not Truth
Truth is not Beauty
Beauty is not Love
Love is not Music
Music is THE BEST

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

John Hartford - Mark Twang

I recently wrote a loving tribute to one of the great albums by one of the all-time great bluegrass artists, John Hartford. The write-up of Mark Twang can be found here, on If you are not familiar with John Hartford and like bluegrass music, then you are doing yourself a large disservice by not checking this master out.

Hartford always had a flair for the irreverent. We leave with a reefer-inspired blessing of Hartford's, known as the track "The Lowest Pair" on Mark Twang:

Much further out than inevitable
Halloween is thy game.
Sky king has come and Wilma's done,
Uncertain as it is uneven.
Give us today hours devours in bed
As we forgive those that have dressed up against us
And need us not enter inflation,
But her liver, onions and potatoes.
For wine is a shingle
And a more, and a story for your father.
All right!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Top Five Party Startin' Funk Albums

As Facebook has officially gone off the deep end, what with the twitting and insanely tedious applications (including top five lists), I will contribute another top five list of my own in this forum, and continue to ignore the junkyard of minutiae that Facebook has become.

Having been inspired by a funk-tastic Karl Denson's Tiny Universe show that brought the dance party heat last weekend, I humbly present to you my Top Five Party Startin' Funk Albums. These are the albums you throw on at a party and play beginning to end once your crowd is socially lubricated enough with drink that dancing is a possibility. The infectious grooves present on these albums will get people moving, and get the party really started. They have been tested in the field over the years, and are the ones I come back to time and time again. Now let us begin the Funk Lesson Countdown:

Honorable Mention: Any Fela Kuti album. Nothin' like some good Afrobeat to lock everyone into the pocket. Most Fela Kuti songs are at least 15-20 minutes long, and are relentless with the hypnotic African funk. I recommend the Confusion/Gentleman album as a start. Also, anything by Antibalas will also do.

5. Maceo Parker - Life on Planet Groove
This live album from 1992 brings the heat. With Fred Wesley on trombone, this is the James Brown horn section funkin' it up and bringin' the house down. The first two tracks, "Shake Everything You Got" and "Pass the Peas," clock in at 28 minutes combined, and provide enough syncopated sax to make your granny shake it.

4. The Greyboy Allstars - Live
Greyboy is one of the great modern funk bands, playing patented West-Coast Boogaloo old-school style. This live album from 1998 is tight as hell, with Karl Denson on sax and jazz flute, and Robert Walter on the crunchy Hammond B3. The band chugs along tight as a drum, and it is very hard not to shake your shit in the process.

3. Lettuce - Rage
A modern classic. Funk supergroup Lettuce just released this album last year, and i have since given it more party play than Rod Stewart in the 70s. With members of Soulive and virtuoso Adam Deitch on drums, this band punches the funk in like it's their business. In my opinion, Lettuce is the tightest and best funk band playing today.

2. The Jacksons - Triumph
I know what you're thinking. Where's Thriller? Well, though it is the #1 all-time party-starting album in the history of mankind, Thriller isn't a funk album. But this criminally underrated album is. It is a wonder no one has heard of it. It was released in 1980, directly in between Off the Wall and Thriller and I see it as equally awesome as Off the Wall. MJ and his brothers have left Motown at this point, which means they changed their name to The Jacksons, and have complete creative control over their music. The result is a fucking awesome album of bass-popping pick-me-up disco-funk tunes that you probably have never heard. Plenty of patented MJ-snapping and clean L.A. production throughout, making for an awesome MJ dance party to songs that you haven't already heard a million times.

1. James Brown - In The Jungle Groove
This is pretty much the holy grail of funk music. It is a compilation of studio jams from 1969 to 1971, which is the period in which James Brown essentially invented funk as we know it. An 18 year old Bootsy Collins plays bass on these tracks, which are the most in-the-pocket grooves to ever punch you in the gut. "Talkin' Loud and Sayin' Nothin'" is my favorite track, with a bouncing lead bass line and a relentless groove that pounds you into the ground, its so deep. "Funky Drummer" is the most sampled track in the history of hip-hop music, if that says anything about the grooves on this album. If this album doesn't get the dance on at your party, then your party sucks. Period.

Thank you, goodnight! And always remember to Pass the Peas.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Archive IV -

Most recently, I reviewed a Big Sam's Funky Nation show for Jambase. You can read it HERE.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Of Phish, Public Speaking, and Transcendence

At this point down the line, it is established that I am a huge believer in the collective consciousness experience that a good live concert can provide an audience. If the band is on, and the audience is receptive and attentive, and everything is lined up just so, then a live show can turn into something much greater than the sum of its parts. During such a gathering, the interaction between performer and audience has the ability to change perceptions, and achieve a profound collective experience that can't be found anywhere else in today's day and age. It is a sort of transcendental contact between performer and audience, a synergy of communion that connects together all who are present and participating in the event.

With the recent Phish reunion shows at the Hampton Coliseum, this phenomenon has naturally been on my mind. The band's epic, marathon sets have reminded us all of their absence, and how much the cathartic celebrations that are Phish shows have been missed. To get an audience of 15 to 25,000 people to all groove on the same wavelength and in the same headspace is no easy feat, and there is no band today that is able to achieve this feat as effortlessly as Phish can. Phish chose Hampton for these shows, as the venue is particularly conducive to the collective band/audience experience.

But then I got thinking: considering the live electric concert experience has really only existed for about 50 years now, we are extremely lucky to be able to experience such phenomena. Before rock and roll, before electricity and amplification, where did people turn for a good rousing dose of collective mindmeld? In America's past, say 150-250 years ago, what events had the ability to bring large groups of people together in this way?

The answer seems to be public oratory. Public speakers of the 18th and 19th centuries had the ability to gather massive crowds, and the best ones had the ability to profoundly move their audience to a point of transformation. It seems that in those olden days, these events were the closest thing the public had to a live concert. There is an excellent essay by Granville Ganter, entitled “'Tuning In': Daniel Webster, Alfred Schultz, and the Grateful Dead,” in which the author compares the speeches of Daniel Webster with Grateful Dead concerts. Back in the day, people gathered in massive numbers to hear Webster deliver passionate oratory, and were greatly moved by his words. Ganter mentions that in 1840, more than 15,000 people climbed up Mt. Stratton in Vermont to hear Webster speak. This reminds me all too well of Phish's final days in 2004, when thousands of Phishheads stranded in traffic walked up to 25 miles to reach the mud-filled festival site of the band's last shows in Coventry, Vermont. In both cases, we see an audience's intense willingness to go through great lengths to be a part of a special communal event.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the modern grandaddy of western transcendent thought, was a huge fan of Webster. (He had a huge collection of bootleg Webster shows on tape. “Webster at Plymouth Plantation, 12/22/20? Heady, brah! Set two is killer!”) Emerson defined good oratory as “collective ecstasy,” where audience participation made the event by fusing the speaker with the audience. And in an age before amplification, this meant even more during such events. Emerson wrote that oratory is “an organ of sublime power...But only then is the orator successful when he... is as much a hearer as any in the assembly.” What's that? Breaking down the barriers between audience and performer? Provoking a mystical experience of collective union? Hey, that sounds familiar...

To take it even further back, we can go to one Mr. Ben Franklin's word on the subject. Back in his day, most public speaking was still done by preachers, and religious in nature. Regardless, the best speakers of the time still had the ability to profoundly move massive groups of people. Franklin had a particular love for the sermons of one Reverend George Whitefield, as he preached of morals, and not religious dogma. The following recollection of Franklin's took place around 1740:

His eloquence had a wonderful power over the hearts and purses of his hearers, of which I myself was an instance...He had a loud and clear voice, and articulated his words and sentences so perfectly, that he might be heard and understood at a great distance, especially as his auditories, however numerous, observ'd the most exact silence. He preach'd one evening from the top of the Court-house steps...Both streets were fill'd with his hearers to a considerable distance...I computed that he might well be heard by more than thirty thousand...Every accent, every emphasis, every modulation of voice, was so perfectly well turn'd and well plac'd, that, without being interested in the subject, one could not help being pleas'd with the discourse; a pleasure of much the same kind with that receiv'd from an excellent piece of music.

Right from Franklin's mouth, folks. The Court-house steps must have had a rowdy lot scene.

So be it the year 1740, 1840, or 2009, the public's desire to experience a profound moment of transcendental contact has always existed. Except back in the day, the heavyweights were orators like Daniel Webster and George Whitefield. So I suppose that makes live bands like the Dead and Phish our modern-day preachers, serving up hefty doses of collective transcendence on a regular basis. Try to remember this the next time you're blissing out to a sick “Slave” or “Hood,” as it is good to recall how lucky we are to have these bands in our lives.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Archive III -

Check out my published review of the new Jimmy Herring solo album Lifeboat.

Friday, February 20, 2009

JB, MJ and the Purple One Share A Stage!!!

If you were to rate the top five most influential artists in the history of Funk/R&B, the high priests would undoubtedly include James Brown, Michael Jackson, and Prince. Combined, what they have done more for dance music is absolutely staggering, and they all are considered the masters of their own genres. They are the untouchables of Funky Dance Music, and here they are, together on one stage. We are lucky enough to have footage of this incredible event, though it is crappy. The planets must have been aligned perfectly for an event of this magnitude to have ever occurred!

MJ appears shy, but brings the house down with his pure talent. He then insists to JB that Prince be introduced as well. Prince knows full well he can't top MJ, and doesn't even try. Instead, he opts for a spectacle. Riding in on the back of a hairy white guy, he appears very fucked up on something. He doesn't even bother singing, and instead rapes the shit out of a guitar for a while before pulling some random sexy stage antics. He then stumbles off stage, taking a piece of the set with him. The JB is all like, "Hey Prince, you forgot your shirt! Don't forget it on your way out."

If I had witnessed this event live, my head would have exploded. Simply and utterly EPIC.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Love Songs

Not that I ever do this, but considering the Grammies were last night, today I suddenly got an inkling to poke my head into the bizarre world that we call "popular music." I haven't paid any attention to the "chart-toppers" and "hit singles" in many, many years. Probably since the late 90s, when that horrible swarm of boy-bands descended upon and destroyed what was left of MTV, which was already on its death-bed by then.

So today I checked out the Billboard Hot 100 list, and with mild surprise, discovered that it is Kelly Clarkson who currently tops out the charts at #1 with her touching love song, beautifully titled, "My Life Would Suck Without You." Imagine Casey Kasem introducing that. Jesus fucking Christ.

But I suppose that there always has been and always will be musical drivel to feed to the masses. And if there has been one constant in the history of rock and roll over the past fifty years that has never gone out of style, it has been the universal appeal of the love song. (This does go back much further, to Tin Pan Alley and Sinatra and the crooners, but Rock is our main lexicon here.) From Elvis' "I Love You Because" in 1955 to "My Life Would Suck Without You," there has always been room for another pop nugget love song to give the world, regardless if it's a lovely gem, or a polished turd.

Given that most popular love songs are disposable fluff, there is no denying that it is not easy to write a love song that's simultaneously loved by millions and respected as actually having substance, as a form of art. Phil Spector was very good at this in the early 60's, and don't even get me started with soul music and Motown. But there is no denying that there really only has been one band to succeed in making high art out of love songs so often, and at such a consistently high level – obviously, The Beatles.

They were so good for so many reasons, and good love songs were really at the core of it all, especially at the beginning. One after another, they kept pumping these vital tracks out, and out of all those amazing love songs, only the occasional McCartney song came across as sappy in any way ("Michelle").

By '67 or so, once they had accepted their positions on the high throne of youth culture, The Beatles had assumed and embraced their roles as troubadours of Love. Their love songs had progressively gotten more and more complex through the Rubber Soul and Revolver albums, saying smart things about ambiguity, pleasure and guilt that had never been done in pop music at the time. They had mastered the craft of writing meaningful love songs, and were at the top of their game. Then Lennon went ahead and took it to a whole other level, summing it ALL up with the universal "All You Need is Love," which was premiered to the world in the first-ever global satellite television broadcast. Soon after, he realized he couldn't really take it any further than that. It seems to me that that song was essentially the climax of the Lennon-McCartney love song era, and they mostly dropped off the love theme after that. The best Beatles love songs post-Revolver were George songs, as he seems to have taken the torch from John and Paul while they explored other aspects of songwriting. Case in point: "Something." This is perhaps the best love song EVER, in the history of all songs. Frank Sinatra himself is known to have said that “Something” is his favorite Lennon-McCartney song.

Then The Beatles broke up. But the love songs continued, and at a pretty consistent quality. John, Paul and George have all contributed their fair share of lovely little ditties of love post-Beatles, though Paul has been guilty the most often of slipping into saccharine, sickly-sweet ballads that suck. Of note is his garish ballad "My Love," a Wings song that has to be the weakest, sappiest, poutiest puppy-dog-eyed McCartney ballad ever (way too many wubba wubs). This song reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 during June 1973. Fittingly enough, it was knocked out of the #1 spot at the end of June by George Harrison's far superior new single, "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)," which is a great forgotten track.

Perhaps in response to the bashing he got for the sucky "My Love," Paul came out a few years later with "Silly Love Songs," with lyrics which pretty much sum it all up:

You'd think that people would have had enough of silly love songs.
But I look around me and I see it isn't so.
Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs.
And what's wrong with that?
I'd like to know, 'cause here I go again
I love you, I love you,
I love you, I love you...

Well spoken, Sir Paul. A good love song is a song for all people, everywhere. So I suppose that songs like "My Love," or "My Life Would Suck Without You" do bring lots of pleasure to many people, regardless of the fact that they really, really suck. They are evidence that there will always be another silly love song to add to the long list.

And now, a list of all the Beatles Love Songs, meaning, the best love songs ever written:
  • All My Loving

  • All You Need Is Love

  • And I Love Her

  • Can't Buy Me Love

  • From Me To You

  • Hold Me Tight

  • I Feel Fine

  • I Wanna Be Your Man

  • I Wanna Hold Your Hand

  • I Want You (She's So Heavy) (love turned raunchy)

  • I'll Get You

  • It's Only Love

  • Love Me Do

  • Love You To (Harrison)

  • Lovely Rita

  • Michelle (my belle, mi amore...)

  • Please Please Me

  • PS I Love You

  • Real Love (actually a Lennon song before being overdubbed in the 90s)

  • She Loves You

  • Something (Harrison)

  • You've Got to Hide Your Love Away (Lennon's anti-love breakup song)

Post-Beatles Solo Career songs about Love:


  • Love (Plastic Ono Band)

  • Oh My Love

  • Nobody Loves You (When You're Down and Out) (written during his breakup with Yoko, when he became a depressed party-animal)

  • Woman

  • Every Man Has A Woman Who Loves Him

  • Dear Yoko

  • Grow Old With Me


  • I Dig Love

  • Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)

  • The Lord Loves the One (That Loves the Lord)

  • Māya Love

  • Ooh Baby (You Know That I Love You)

  • Can't Stop Thinking About You

  • Learning How to Love You

  • Love Comes to Everyone

  • Your Love Is Forever

  • Wake Up My Love

  • This is Love

And McCartney, the hopeless romantic. Sometimes pouty and too soft, but always catchy and melodic:

  • Lovely Linda

  • Maybe I'm Amazed (at the way you Love me all the time)

  • Love is Strange

  • My Love

  • One More Kiss

  • Love in Song

  • Silly Love Songs

  • Girlfriend (originally written with Michael Jackson in mind as the singer, MJ later covered it on Off the Wall)

  • Through Our Love

  • Only Love Remains

  • Don't Be Careless Love

  • Motor of Love

  • The Lovers That Never Were

  • Heather (Written for Heather Mills, the one-legged gold-digger)

  • Your Loving Flame

Saturday, January 10, 2009

In Voluptate Mors

So I'm walking down Haight St. one sunny afternoon in the summer of 2006, shootin' the shit with my buddy Eddie. This is our first time in San Francisco, so we're taking it all in, browsing the storefronts. We soon pass an art gallery, and I see an image that stops me in my tracks. "What the fuck is that?" I blurt out. I take a step closer and peer through the storefront glass, and this is what I see:

"That is the coolest poster I have ever seen," I say. "I must own it. It shall be the centerpiece of my home. I will have dinner parties, and we will sip martinis, gaze up at the framed masterpiece, and have passionate discussions aroused by the dichotomies and contradictions brought up in its powerful imagery." I quickly pull out a piece of scrap paper and write down the name of the work: In Voluptate Mors, by Salvador Dalí & Philippe Halsman, taken in 1951. Needless to say, after checking out the pricetag on the framed print, I pass on the purchase, promising to myself I will own it someday. Oh yes, it will be mine. Someday, Alice, Someday.

Needless to say, I have yet to find a worthy print of this masterwork within my price range. But lets examine this work for a moment, shall we? There is a lot going on here. Not much really needs to be said, as the image really speaks for itself, with the beautiful female image contorted into a grotesque grin of death. And the look on Dalí's face? Fear. Also, distance and aloofness, which make it more unsettling. I'll let you take from the piece what you will, but there is no denying it is a totally original work. I've never seen anything like it before.

Which is why I was disappointed, but not surprised, to find that Hollywood has gotten its grubby little hands on this piece and plagiarized it nice and good. The first use of this image I approve of, as it is actually very clever. It is more of an homage, as it is subtle. Here is the original Silence of the Lambs poster:
On its own it is a haunting image, very well executed and subtle in its menacing softness. The skull on the moth's back emphasizes this dichotomy of muted fear. But take a really close look at the skull, and there it is:

Brilliant. I can get behind this usage of the image. Thematically, it fits right in with the poster. Moths, as well as nude women, are both considered soft, delicate creatures. Here, they are both branded with death, contradicting themselves. I can dig that. Thumbs up for Silence of the Lambs.

It was a number of years before Hollywood decided to use usurp this image as a promotional tool again, and this time, the results were not as inspired, or as subtle. Apparently, the same can be said for the film itself, though I have not seen it. I'll let the poster speak for itself:

The Descent was released in 2006, and apparently it is a well-executed horror flick which balances gore with psychological terror (claustrophobia, etc.) But the poster is shit, just a total rip-off. To someone who has never seen the original, it probably is pretty cool, but it should be considered pure plagiarism. The obvious factor which ruins the imagery is that the girls are clothed, with hiking boots on. Also, the dark and light is inverted. Both of these changes destroy any meaningful imagery inherent in the original, leaving an empty shell of an image. The best response this poster is capable of getting is a, "hey, that's a cool poster!" But alas, nothing more.

Hopefully, if anyone else decides to plagiarize this original masterpiece, they will have the good sense to respect it as art, and do it tastefully.

Until then, I will be sitting in my armchair, legs crossed with pipe and bathrobe, gazing quizzically up at my gold-framed artist's proof of In Voluptate Mors, contemplating the fragile, beautiful mess that is the human condition.