Tag Archives: Brian Wilson

Band of Brothers?

The infamous Gallagher brothers from Oasis are at war, once again. This time, Liam is suing his older brother for libel regarding comments about the break-up of the band. Noel claims that Liam was too hung-over to play the V Festival in 2009, which the band eventually pulled out of. Liam wants everybody to know this is a lie.

Even between these two brothers, a lawsuit seems a bit extreme. Over the fifteen years since Oasis first burst onto the Brit-Pop Scene, both Liam and Noel have engaged in so much verbal warfare it’s nauseating to comprehend. Both of them are probably guilty of libel and slander towards each other at various points in their career, but they’ve always managed to put their feelings aside for the band. Indeed, if Noel can still work with Liam after their disastrous Unplugged performance – why not let bygones be bygones?

Note that Liam’s lawsuit was filed within mere weeks after Noel announced plans for a new solo album. In recent weeks, Noel has had massive interviews with numerous British Magazines including Q, and Mojo as well as Rolling Stone. The actual incident in question happened over two years ago.

Getting into a band with your siblings can be a messy affair, especially if one sibling is the creative genius in the group, like Noel Gallagher.  Just ask the Beach Boys, whose Brian Wilson was the driving force behind their biggest hits, and the seminal Pet Sounds album. Brothers Dennis and Carl Wilson were entangled in many legal battles with disputes over Brian’s psychological issues, and publishing rights. Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Tom and John Fogerty constantly battled over which direction the band would take, even though John wrote nearly all of the band’s music. The rift was so wide after the group broke up that the brothers didn’t speak to each other for nearly twenty years. Similarly, The Black Crowes Chris and Rich Robinson have always seemed to be at odds with each other since the beginning (and have gone on record as stating that they don’t talk to each other outside of the band) but have recently made-up enough to make new music before going on hiatus last fall.

Kings of Leon seem to be going down a similar path of sibling self-destruction. The three brothers and cousin are known just as much for their rivalry as they are their music. A clip for their new documentary Talihina Sky shows drummer Nathan screaming at lead singer Caleb, calling him “a piece of shit”. A few weeks ago, when the band was forced to cancel a gig mid-set due to Caleb’s “voice issues”, younger brother and bass player Jared came on stage to a crowd of boos informing the audience not to hate them, but Caleb.

Whatever issues remain within a band always seem to be exaggerated whenever siblings are involved. Sibling rivalry can certainly be intense, but it seems when it comes to music, some siblings have no problem throwing each other under the bus in exchange for saving face.

 

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The Ten Most Important Artists Of The Last Decade – 3. Jay-Z

Last year, Jay-Z appeared on The Daily Show to promote his book Decoded.  Jay-Z has always come off as an intelligent dude, and the excerpts I’ve read from Decoded solidified this.  What really stood out from Jay-Z’s appearance on The Daily Show, was his humbleness.  As Jon Stewart asked the questions, Jay-Z seemed shy, awkward, and out of his element.  I’ve been a fan of Jay-Z for a while, but his demeanor made me like him even more.  It was direct contrast to his rap persona – bigger than life, and untouchable.  Jay-Z has always been larger than life.   And for those brief moments on The Daily Show, he seemed human.

Many rappers tend to boast – it’s part of hip-hop culture.  When Jay-Z declared himself the “8th Wonder of the World” in “Izzo”, it seemed ridiculous.  And it is.  But the crux of the line lies in the fact that Jay-Z views himself as simply great – not just the “greatest rapper alive” (which he is.)  It’s hard to accuse him of being arrogant, when it’s true.  It reminds me of Brian Wilson listing 8 Beach Boys songs as his Top 10 Songs of all time.  Are you really going to argue?

As a rapper, Jay-Z is instantly recognizable with that deep voice.  His flow is impeccable, and legend has it that he never writes down his lyrics, and if that is the case, it’s all the more impressive.  “Moment of Clarity” remains of one of his best songs – where he takes down his critics for going mainstream – “I dumb down for my audience/And double my dollars/They criticize me for it/Yet they all yell “Holla“.

Jay-Z has always been ahead of the game, and a trend-setter.   But with his 2001 release The Blueprint, he truly became a hip-hop titan.  His rhymes were tighter, and he tore down his rivals with such ease that almost every other rapper seemed small in comparison.  The Blueprint was also significant for bringing back sampling as a hip-hop tool, eschewing the keyboard heavy sound that was prominent at the time.   It was also one of the first albums to incorporate soul samples,which has now become something of a common practice in hip-hop.   His next release, The Black Album was a slight dip in quality (though not by much).  “99 Problems” is a fusion of rock and hip-hop where Jay-Z recalls his early days, as if it remind his audience that’s still the same guy he used to be.

To some, Jay-Z tirade against auto-tune  – “D.O.A.” – may have made him seem like a cranky old man who doesn’t understand the new trends.  But rather, it cemented the fact that he still be the greatest by existing in his own world.  And when he played Glastonbury a couple years back – to Noel Gallagher’s chagrin – Jay-Z proved that he wasn’t bound by the hip-hop world.  He could draw a crowd, and put on a show that everybody loved.

Over the past decade, Jay-Z has proved time and again that as a hip-hop artist you can be huge, and still create music that is intelligent, while still maintaining street-cred.

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Women Singers: “Be My Baby” – The Ronettes

So I realized that the  majority of my posts (okay pretty much all of them) have been guy-centric and perhaps as a bit sexist in my selections.  So I plan to remedy that situation with this week’s list.  (And this won’t be a half-assed week either, just in case anyone tries to call me out on that.)

To kick things off, I’m going to start with what I think might the ultimate pop-song.  And if you don’t believe me – a certain Mr. Brian Wilson lists “Be My Baby” as his all-time favorite song.

“Be My Baby” begins with perhaps the most famous drum intro in popular music.  It sounds standard now, but the sound of the song itself was quite revolutionary at the time.  “Be My Baby” is Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound at its epitome.  Session man Hal Blaine’s thunder-clap drums  reinforce Ronnie Spector’s declaration that “we’ll make them turn their heads everywhere we go.”

Ronnie Spector doesn’t have the same control and force in her voice that Darlene Love (another Spector-girl) had.  Yet she commands “Be My Baby”.  Her voice is sexy and yearning.  Spector might be begging for the listener to be her baby, but by the second verse you want to be her baby.  “Since the day I saw you, I have been waiting for you,” She coos.  And for a moment it seems innocent, but Spector nails the thin between romance and sex in the song  And there’s no denying the “oooh-oooh” at the end of the song.  I’ve always loved the violin break in the middle of the song.  It seems to add tension in the song – and it just thickens Spector’s Wall of Sound Production.

Be My Baby

John Lennon’s “interesting” cover of “Be My Baby”

The Ronettes performing “Be My Baby”:  (Sound quality is kind of iffy):

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