Saturday, June 25, 2005


I have been waiting for this perfect moment to start blogging here.. and this is it.

Finally! A perfect top 3 album of pure unadulterated rock n roll! (actually not really, Coldplay kinda spoils it a little. ) But its ok. I shall settle for less.. considering the pathetic state the music industry is in.. *sigh*.

Anyway since its my inaugural blog debut i shall blah a little more about songs that have been going off in my head for the past couple of weeks (not playing in my head but literally blasting in my ear from my iPod.)

1) I hope its not too small but then people who are free enough to read this blog should have adjusted to the teeny tiny words many blogs are so fond of flaunting. And yes you have not read wrongly. Its The Killers. Unfortunate name, but if you think about so many other band names that have emerged (Linkin Park? Limp Bizkit? Whats wrong with spelling things out in full?!) The Killers actually sound pretty damn nice. And yes the songs are great with strong riffs and an 80s vibe to it, so try it and see if it goes down well.


Second group of songs: Goo Goo Dolls! (If you're wondering why the songs are in groups its cos i play the iPod by artists.. so lazy to change lah) By and by i've just discovered their live album, and i LOVE live albums. Something about them that brings out the vibe in a band. To me a band will be good if its good live. Anyway, this parricular 4th July was pinssing down with rain, and the concert went on despite the rain. So, if it sounds good its double the credit. Oh and if you don't like the Goos. you can go bang your head against the wall cos they are FINE.


RHCP. Live. No need for words. (In case you're wondering Live at Slane was ripped from the DVD concert. So, yes, i'm a bootlegger of sorts.)


Oh i have to introduce this band called Tha Album Leaf. If you watch the OC you'll recognize a lot of the tracks, which are mostly instrumental pieces with lush soundscapes. If you're looking for moody pieces to accompany your temperament for those rainy days, this is it. (Try the highlighted track, its one of my faves.)

After all the songs above i would have completed my lousy commute from my home to my workplace and my iPod would be sadly quiet in my bag until it comes alive on the commute home. And all the songs added up will tell you my travelling time from Simei to lousy Buona Vista. Bah! Freaking 1 hour journey. It kills i tell you. Thats why the shortest lives belong to commuters. Its actually like smoking if you think about it, just that instead of every cigarette its every commute. And i suspect commuting might even be worse than a ciggie. Well, all i gotta say is, poor smoking commuters. ='(

Before i sign off here's a pic of ol' Jimmy Page when he was young. Which just reminds me i have to replace my guitar strings. Poooey.

Until next time.

Foo Fighters concert streaming online on Rolling Stone!

Rolling Stone Online is streaming Foo Fighter's concert! You got to watch/listen to it!!! Here's the link: Give me Foo!

The streaming video is too slow even for broadband connection, so there's no point trying to watch it. But the audio is quite good though.

This is Foo's brand new concert, plugging their new double album, In Your Honor, released last week. It debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200, behind Coldplay's X&Y. Tough luck.

Anyway for this concert, they perform some of their new songs, including the title track, which is a worthy concert opener. They opened with All My Life for their last tour, which was awesome.

Foos are really tight, and they sound even better live. Frontman Dave Grohl's enthusiasm is infectious, and you can tell just by listening to him. I also like the way they transition in between the songs. They will play an instrumental as a segue to the songs, linking them up nicely.

Anyway, Foos are not short of material to perform live. They have released 5 albums in the space of 10 years, and they just keep getting better each time they tour. I need to catch them live at least once in my life!!!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Rarities #5/Classics #2: Michael Jackson - Dangerous Collector's Edition 2CD (1993) [Updated]

In light of Michael Jackson's recent acquital, I shall highlight his Dangerous album, which is one of my favourite albums of all time. This special edition contains a bonus remix CD, and it is actually the Australian version of the album, released in 1993.

Dangerous was the album that got me hooked on MJ, and that was in 1993/4. As a result, I missed all the hoopla when MJ came to Singapore for the first time in 1993. The MJ craze in Singapore was at its peak then.

Anyway, Dangerous is one of my favourite albums for good reasons. Every track sounds so different from the other, and it still sounds fresh today. And the album sold by the truckloads back then. Ask the people around you: out of 5 of your friends, I'm quite sure at least 1 of them has the album.

Dangerous marked a departure for MJ as he parted ways with producer Quincy Jones, who produced his first 3 solo albums (Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad) under the Epic label. They were mega-sellers of course, and it was a gamble to leave all the success behind and venture into uncharted territory.

However, it was the start of a new decade, and the music landscape had changed. MJ needed a fresh sound so in came producer Teddy Riley to help execute the transition. Together, they wrote 7 of the 14 tracks.

The album opens with Jam, a funky and dancy number. There are few album openers that are as good as Jam. Most people would probably remember the video, in which MJ pitted against MJ. Michael Jackson versus Michael Jordan that is, two men at the peak of their powers, each defining their domains. It was a cool video and it was quite funny seeing the 2 MJs battling it out.

In The Closet was a lesser-known song but it is more famous for its video, which was directed by the late Herb Ritts, famous for his black and white work. MJ even teamed up with Naomi Campbell in this steamy video, and he sported a sleek ponytail and wore a singlet as well, a first.

Remember The Time is a groovy track and I especially love the last part of the song, where he ad libs some of the lines. The video is again, lavish, and it is one of his more under-rated videos. It featured an all-star cast of Eddie Murphy, Magic Johnson and Iman, a testament to his star power. The dance moves were great too.

Then there was Heal The World...the song that everyone knows how to sing along to. I'm not kidding, just ask anyone on the street to sing it and they will be able to, confirmed. It's simple and the melody is nice, pretty much in the vein of We Are The World, which he co-wrote with Lionel Richie in 1985.

Who Is It was released as a single only after the Oprah Winfrey TV interview, where he sang an a capella version of it. The demand from the public was so great that it resulted in the single's release, and the CD single even included a special a cappella intro to the song. The song is full of his trademark hiccups, but in this case, the hiccups are present in every line! Only MJ can pull off such a stunt.

Will You Be There was featured on the Free Willy soundtrack, and it opens with a 2-minute choral intro. There was even a one-and-a-half minute spoken outro at the end. It's one of my favourite MJ songs too. It is such a different song from the rest of the album that it really stands out.

Gone Too Soon was dedicated to Ryan White, who succumbed to AIDS at the age of 19. It is a beautiful song and it showcases MJ's voice as pure as it possibly can be. This song was also included in the tribute album to the late Princess Diana.

Dangerous, the title track, is MJ's coolest song, ever. Somehow it always reminds me of Terminator 2. Its metallic and clunky sounds just fit in with the image of the Terminator well, and that's saying something, since T2 is one of my fave movies too. To me, Dangerous is one of MJ's most under-rated songs.

Then there's the little hit called Black Or White...the other MJ song that everyone knows. It's an insanely-catchy song, with a little help from Slash of course. Who can forget that riff? The video, with his crotch-grabbing, caused a lot of outrage, but that was the whole point, wasn't it? Any publicity is good publicity. However, the more important thing is that the video pioneered the use of morphing technology, and MJ set the benchmark for revolutionary videos once again.

This is a superbly long entry because I simply can't tell you enough how great this album is. I'm biased of course, but everyone is bound to be biased when talking about their favourite stuff.

Dangerous is packed full of hit songs, and you really can't get a more diverse-sounding album than this. You can hear MJ's voice in many different shades and he sings in different styles. Not many singers have the ability to do this. He's a vocal chameleon.

Sadly, Dangerous was MJ's last great album. HIStory and Invincible had many good songs, but there were plenty of filler as well. But given his talent, there is no doubt he can bounce back and produce another hit record. He just needs to find the right producer. The Neptunes would be cool.

Everything about the Dangerous album was cool: the artwork, the videos, the tour and the songs. This is one album you really ought to buy, if you don't own it already.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Collectibles #3: *NSYNC No Strings Attached (2000)

*NSYNC certainly were the biggest boyband to come out of the mid-90s era, and I'm saying they were bigger than the Backstreet Boys ever, even though BSB were the pioneers. *NSYNC's self-titled debut album had already caused a huge impact on the charts, spurned by the hit singles I Want You Back, Tearin' Up My Heart, I Drive Myself Crazy and (God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time On You.

To date, the album has sold 10 million copies in the US, earning *NSYNC a Diamond Award (given to albums that sell at least 10 million copies in the US). Not a bad way to start your career.

To be fair, Britney's debut album, ...Baby One More Time has sold 14 million copies and BSB's self-titled US debut album has also sold 14 million copies. However, BSB's US release of the album is actually a combination of their first 2 albums released in Europe. So it actually contains hits from both their real Europe debut album (Backstreet Boys) and their follow-up (Backstreet's Back). This is because BSB's popularity caught on the US later than it did in Europe, so Zomba cleverly combined the 2 albums and marketed it as their debut US album.

But I'm digressing of course. No Strings Attached was *NSYNC's sophomore release, and anticipation for it was sky-high. It was led by the massive first single, Bye Bye Bye, and when the album was released, it was Buy Buy Buy.

The album broke first day sales records with 1.1 million copies sold in one day and 2.4 million in one week!!! It was unprecedented and the record still stands today. Most artistes would be happy to sell 2.4 million copies of an album in 5 years, let alone one week.

No Strings Attached would go on to sell 11 million copies in the US, giving them their second Diamond award. (BSB also managed another Diamond award for their Millennium album, which sold 13 million)

However, record sales are only one part of the story. The massive success of *NSYNC showed that there was enough room in the pop world for 2 boybands, and they worked hard to prove their worth.

The next single, It's Gonna Be Me, became their first and only Billboard 100 number one hit. This I Promise You was another big hit and it was followed by I'll Never Stop, which was not released in the US.

*NSYNC embarked on a huge tour and were the 2nd highest money earner on tour, taking in over US$76 million in 2000. They appeared on almost every awards show and were even nominated for 3 Grammys in 2001, including the prestigious Record of the Year for Bye Bye Bye. They even inducted Michael Jackson into the Hall of Fame in 2001. They were everywhere!

For all the talk about their success, it is easy to overlook their talent and their music. While there were only 4 singles lifted off the album, the other songs are also pretty good stuff. Space Cowboy (Yippie-Yi-Yay) features a rap by the late Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes from TLC and it is a stomping number. The title track is another song tailor-made for their live shows, and they opened their tour with this song.

That's When I'll Stop Loving You is a sweet enough ballad, and I Thought She Knew is an a capella track, showcasing their nice harmonies.

To get a better understanding of *NSYNC's popularity, it would be good to check out their live shows, the Madison Square Garden concert in particular. Here you can see the boys in all their glory, their energy and well-choreographed dance moves, which left me suitably impressed (it's not easy to impress me, especially since I'm an MJ and JJ fan, who are dynamic live performers).

*NSYNC was of course, the platform on which Justin Timberlake built his credentials before he conquered the world as a solo artiste (much like MJ and the Jackson 5). In No Strings Attached, Justin co-wrote one song, I'll Be Good For You. The little-known fact is that JC Chasez (aka the other *NSYNC guy who went solo but wasn't as famous as Justin/aka the one who can dance better than Justin) co-wrote 4 songs on this album, more than Justin did!

Anyway, the album is a good listen and I would even classify it as a Guilty Pleasure. It's dancy and exciting, and the songs are the platform for the boys to showcase their moves in their live shows, with the funky beats and syncopations.

*NSYNC were at the height of their careers with this album and it is unlikely that they will ever be as successful again. But when they do decide to reunite, I'll be watching out for them for sure.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Michael Jackson: A lose-lose situation

I'm sure everyone would know by now that Michael Jackson is facing the biggest test of his life: he is awaiting the verdict from the jurors on whether or not he is guilty of the child-molestation and conspiracy charges. The jury has been deliberating for the past three days and so far no conclusion has been reached. If he is pronounced guilty, he can face more than 20 years in jail.

That is of course a scary proposition for anybody, let alone celebrities like MJ. And we're not talking about any other celebrity here. It's MICHAEL JACKSON we're talking about. For one, I simply cannot imagine how he will cope in prison, without the luxuries he has been enjoying since he earned his first million under the age of 15.

But that is another matter. Regardless of whether he is acquitted or pronounced guilty, I believe he is at a lose-lose situation.

If he is declared innocent, people will say: the jury sure kelong one! He must have bought them off and treated them to unlimited ferris wheel rides at Neverland! It's a cover-up!

But if he is pronounced guilty, people will say: About time this sexless, child-molester is put behind bars! The last time he got away, he was lucky!

So I believe MJ will forever be in a losing situation no matter what the verdict is. There is an article on MTV that reads: Forget the scandals, MJ's legacy as a performer is untouchable. It is a pretty good read and it reminds people why MJ is such a big star in the first place. It is because of his talent and genius as a musician and performer that made the world stand up and take notice of him, and sadly, this aspect of him has been neglected by the press and people who put out what you read.

No matter what the verdict is, I wish that people will look past the scandals and appreciate MJ for his talents and his contributions to the world of pop. I wish him all the best of course. The verdict should be out by the end of this week. Brace yourself.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Collectibles #2: Red Hot Chili Peppers Californication (1999)

This is the album that brought Red Hot Chili Peppers back into the limelight. RHCP weathered a tumultous decade in the 1990s, which saw the arrival of guitarist John Frusciante in 1989 and his departure just 3 years later, as well as the changing of three guitarists (Arik Marshall, Jesse Tobias and Dave Navarro) to their lineup.

Californication marked the return of John Frusciante after successfully combating his drugs addiction. He returned being clearer and more focused than ever, and in the process, brought a whole new energy and drive to the Peppers.

Californication was released to great critical acclaim in 1999, and it spawned several hit singles. The first single, Scar Tissue, topped the Billboard Modern Rock tracks for a whopping 16 weeks! It set a record for most weeks at number one for that chart. Scar Tissue also helped RHCP win their second Grammy Award for Best Rock Song in 2000.

The second single, Otherside, topped the Modern Rock Chart for a further 13 weeks, solidifying RHCP as a formidable rock act. They followed it up with Californication, another chart topper, but it was most remembered for its music video, which featured the Peppers in animation going through the city as if they were in a video game. It's rad stuff no doubt.

This album is one of those rare gems where just about every track is good. The album opener, Around The World, is a high-powered track featuring funky bass lines by Flea, the best bassist in the world®.

Parallel Universe is another pulsating track with a huge climax showcasing Frusciante, Flea and Chad Smith (drums) at the height of their powers. The song, I Like Dirt, was even used by Perfect Ten for their "All Hits, All Day" jingle back then. Another outstanding track is Road Trippin', a tender and delicate acoustic song to close the album.

This special limited edition release comes with a bonus VCD featuring the videos for Scar Tissue, Around The World, Otherside and Californication. They're visually arresting and hugely creative. You got to check it out for yourself.

This package is almost extinct in Singapore, but I believe you can still find it in very ulu corners somewhere. It might even qualify as a rarity. So if you are one of the few people who have it, good for you. This is an Asian version of the album, so even Amazon considers it an Import, meaning it is more expensive than the regular edition.