Thursday, August 18, 2005

S, VIII

Bruce Springsteen- Greatest Hits

Check it out: there are periods of time when, at parties, hipsters ‘confess’ their love for certain artists. F’r example, there was a period of time a few years back where everyone and their brother was coming out of the woodwork at scenester parties with their startling confession that ‘Pet Sounds’ was the best album ever recorded. This was, of course, neither startling nor a confession because:

a) Boston is a small town- maybe three degrees separate everyone. The line of bullshit about ‘Pet Sounds’ made its way through the scenester sect like herpes, and was just as undetectable, until you got into a conversation with some dude with a mod haircut and a denim jacket who started talking about records. The ‘Pet Sounds’ discussion was passed from party to party until everyone had heard all the reasons/arguments.

b) ‘Double Nickels On The Dime’ is the best record ever, not Pet Sounds, scenesters be damned.

Anyway, the reason I mention the confession ticket is because there was a little while where the scenesters were all buzzing about how their favorite record ever was Springsteen’s ‘Nebraska.’ It was so bleak, they said, so dark and confessional that it put like Nick Drake to shame (no, I am not making this up). I was amused- the hipsters digging Springsteen? Okay, I thought, I’ll bite. Found a vinyl copy of ‘Nebraska’ at Diskovery for like five bucks, brought it home, put it on. Shit sounds really good, and is very intense.

Springsteen’s greatest hits is a motherfucker of a record- all of the radio hits mixed with some of the early stuff (and some of the post-‘Tunnel of Love’ records, which I haven’t really listened to so much). It amazes me that the man has been the Everyman for so long, the voice of the common people. He played Fenway and tickets were so pricey that the working class folks that he sings to/for couldn’t afford to get in (like they could find ducats for sale anyway)- it was all the yuppie fucks that were in college when he started playing, the crowd that valets their Beamers in front of the steakhouse before the show, sweaters tied in a loose knot over their shoulders (don’t want to stretch the cashmere). Still, though, it’s not the Boss’s fault that some of his audience has progressed through the income brackets at the same pace he walked through the different tiers of fame and stardom. Hell, he’s doing something right if he can get drunk Allston hipster scumbags to stagewhisper confessions about his records, yeah?

Split Lip- Fate’s Got A Driver

Emo was at least half marketing. Split Lip was a band that didn’t display the musical genre signifiers but were sold to me and the rest of the kids as such anyway. I think I’ve mentioned before that one of the things that endears/ed me to the mid nineties was that ‘emo’ was a tremendously loose umbrella under which so many bands of different styles and sounds were grouped. It was a really exciting time because things weren’t homogenized- every scene had a distinctive sound, like when punk was first blossoming here in the U.S.

Split Lip were a band that stood under the umbrella because of their words, more than anything else. With lyrics like ‘I’m just an honest man/with his heart in his hands’, where else was the band gonna stand, you know? So what if their music wasn’t terribly crazy- blue-collar up-tempo guitar rock that might have had punk or hardcore as like a third cousin seen every three years at a family function. It didn’t matter. The sound was still raw and, yes, emotional enough so that the driving rhythms and sounds acted as an effective vehicle for the delivery of the heartfelt lyrics, which kids all over the country dutifully copied into their fanzines or onto the back of spiralbound notebooks at school. They weren’t so screechy and out there that they were hard to get into, but had enough of an edge so that no one would consider them pussies.

A few miscellaneous notes about the band:

-I was first exposed to them through Norm Arenas’s excellent fanzine ‘Anti-Matter’ (which was leter just called ‘Anti-‘). Norm and Doghouse Records included a one-sided 7” of ‘Uniontown’ in one of the issues of the zine, which then prompted me to go out and find the full length (Al Quint from Suburban Voice used to include 7”s in every issue- Al, we miss you!).

-Split Lip changed their name to Chamberlain (the name of one of the songs on ‘Fate’s Got A Driver’), then re-recorded the vocals and re-released the album. I only heard the re-release a few times, so I don’t have clear thoughts on whether the change added to or subtracted from the strength of the record (anyone wanna burn me a copy?).

-Chamberlain went country shortly after the re-release. I bought the single on which they changed genres, thought it sounded like grade z John Mellencamp, wiped my ass on it and threw it off a bridge. Again, though, if anyone wants to burn/send me a copy of ‘The Moon My Saddle’ I’d be happy to reconsider the ass-wiping.

2 Comments:

Blogger howie said...

One more vote for "Double Nickels on the Dime".

11:15 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Damn straight.

1:30 PM  

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