Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Horror Playlist: James Newman

There's no way I could ever narrow my favorite albums down to just 10. Even if I could, it would take me forever, and I'd undoubtedly revise such a list a million times.
What's more, I don't own an Ipod. Hence, putting together a "Top 10 Songs On Your Ipod" list is not an option for yours truly.
So . . . I'll do the next best thing. Same principle anyway. How about the 10 songs that most frequently get replayed on my Thumbdrive-Fulla-Tunes(TM) I carry with me everywhere I go:

1-) TRICKY: "Excess"
I first heard this one on the QUEEN OF THE DAMNED soundtrack a few years back. Not sure how I got my hands on that disc, as I couldn't care less about the movie or most of the music in it, but this is such a cool song. Something about "Excess" reminds me of "Magic" by Mick Smiley (you might remember that one from GHOSTBUSTERS, the song that kicks in when the camera's sweeping over the city as all hell starts breakin' loose). I guess Tricky's music is what the kids are calling "trip-hop" these days? I don't know, but I do know I dig the hell outta this song. Cool, dark, hip -- more, please! Recommendations are welcome and appreciated, BLACK GLOVE readers, as this is the only song of Tricky's I have ever heard.

2-) V.A.S.T.: "Thrown Away"
I've been crazy about this band since their first self-titled album, and barely a day goes by that I don't listen to V.A.S.T. at least once. They're one of my favorite bands, and although I hesitate to throw out such over-used, reeks-of-hyperbole praise . . . I consider V.A.S.T. main-man Jon Crosby nothing less than a musical genius. Who else can mix up a vast (nyuk-nyuk) array of influences encompassing everything from Metallica to Nine Inch Nails, from U2 to Gregorian chants, from Depeche Mode to the Cure to old slave spirituals (no kidding) -- and actually make it work?! Jon Crosby and V.A.S.T, that's who. God, I love this band . . . .

3-) TOM PETTY: "American Girl"
This one never fails to get me singing along at the top of my lungs (although I try to limit such antics to inside my car, not at the office -- it's just better that way). One of my all-time favorite songs . . . and one that, despite its happy, upbeat tone, is quite relevant to THE BLACK GLOVE. How, you ask? Just so happens this track was featured in none other than SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, as sung by one carefree young lady moments before she was abducted by Buffalo Bill, and thrown into a pit where she was told to put the lotion on (her) skin or else (she'd) get the hose again . . . .

4-) NINE INCH NAILS: "Every Day Is Exactly the Same"
Next to "Something I Can Never Have," this one's my favorite NIN song. I know a lot of Trent's fans considered WITH TEETH a sub-par album, but I thought it was his best since PRETTYHATEMACHINE. Then again, I prefer his slower, moodier songs over the heavier, punky stuff. I consider "Every Day Is Exactly the Same" sorta my "theme song" for the ole' day job. The lyrics couldn't be more fitting: "I believe I can see the future as I repeat the same routine/I think I used to have a purpose, but then again that might have been a dream/I think I used to have a voice, now I never make a sound/I just do what I've been told". Cool.

5-) ALTER BRIDGE: "Blackbird"
I hated Creed with a passion. So when I first heard about Alter Bridge, the band formed from Creed's ashes, I had no desire to hear a single A-chord from this new outfit. But then I heard "Rise Today" on the radio. And I thought it was a really decent song! At some point not long after that, I bought Alter Bridge's album BLACKBIRD, and I was blown away. Myles Kennedy -- who "replaced" Creed's godawful, makes-me-wanna-rip-out-my-own-eardrums-with-an-icepick-any-time-I-hear-his-voice Scott Stapp -- might just be my favorite singer at the moment. Holy crap, this kid can sing! The title track to Alter Bridge's BLACKBIRD disc always makes me think of my wife's grandfather, who passed away several years ago. The lyrics never fail to bring a tear to my eye, especially during the haunting breakdown in the middle of the song; it's obvious that the guys in Alter Bridge wrote this perfect arrangement in tribute to a lost loved one of their own.

6-) JUDAS PRIEST: "Diamonds and Rust"
Another one that compels me to sing along at the top of my lungs (and I'm quite good at it, if I do say so myself . . . ask me to prove it at a convention sometime if there's a karaoke machine nearby, and you get enough beers in me I might just do it). "Diamonds and Rust" is a metallized cover of an old Joan Baez tune about an out-of-the-blue phone call from a former lover (rumor has it Baez wrote the song for none other than Bob Dylan). These days, when Priest performs "Diamonds and Rust" live, it's a much different version than this hard-rocker originally recorded for their album SIN AFTER SIN -- it's a slow, acoustic, almost country-tinged ballad. Believe it or not, I like that version even better than this one.

7-) ALICE IN CHAINS: "All Secrets Known"
I've loved Alice In Chains ever since the first time I heard "We Die Young" back before they broke big. They were always my favorite thing to come out of the whole 90's Seattle grunge scene. I kinda lost track of them for a few years, though, and after the band reformed following the death of Layne Staley I admit I wasn't in any big hurry to buy their new album BLACK GIVES WAY TO BLUE. I heard "Check Your Brain" on the radio, and it just didn't do much for me. I've since took a chance on the album, though, and now BLACK GIVES WAY TO BLUE rarely leaves my CD player. Thanks to a ridiculously simple but super-cool main riff, this opening track gets cranked up to full volume and replayed multiple times whenever my shuffled playlist brings the song 'round again.

8-) CONCRETE BLONDE: "Jenny I Read"
I discovered Concrete Blonde about fifteen years too late, sad to say. But better late than never! Now Johnette Napolitano has become one of my favorite songwriters. Ohh, that voice . . . it's like cigarettes, whiskey, murder and madness on a sweltering summer night in the dark heart of the Big Easy. "Jenny I Read" tells the story of a washed-up celebrity, and feels like a lyrical precursor to Metallica's "The Memory Remains". The melody is creepy, ominous, but the words are damned heartbreaking: "You wanted it all but the American Dream was nothing to write home about . . . you were wined and dined every night and then one day it was over and where are you now?"

9-) AS I LAY DYING: "Sound of Truth"
I very, very rarely go this heavy. Simply put, I'm not a fan of "Cookie Monster" death-metal vocals. But there's something about this band that I really I dig. Granted, I have to be in the mood to listen to 'em -- usually in the mood to destroy something (which is ironic, considering As I Lay Dying is a Christian band) -- but when I am the mood, this is great stuff! As I Lay Dying contrast their growly death-metal vocals with a second vocalist who sings in a clean, melodic style. And the music, while brutally heavy at times, is at heart influenced by great classic British metal like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. I try not to listen to this one too often while I'm driving, 'cause I'm afraid I'll get a speeding ticket. One of these days, I know it's gonna happen.

10-) THE CULT: "Nirvana"/"Big Neon Glitter"/"She Sells Sanctuary"/"Hollow Man"
Gonna cheat a little here, 'cause these four are interchangeable at any given time. The Cult is my favorite band, and a handful of tracks from LOVE -- my favorite album from Ian Astbury and Co. -- is always at the top of my playlist. Dark, mysterious, seductive and sinful . . . yet simultaneously carefree, celebratory, funky, and full of hope . . . this is the LOVE album. Glitter meets goth, and it don't get no better. I was lucky enough to see the band play their seminal peacenik-punk platter in its entirety last year on the "LOVE Live" tour, and I'll never forget that show. Had the time of my life, walked out of that sweaty lil' club feelin' ten years younger (at least). "When the music is loud, we all get down," Ian rejoices in "Nirvana", and ain't that the truth.

(The Black Glove thanks James Newman for his time and effort, and for sharing some great tunes with us.)