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Saturday, March 12, 2005
One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer
Sorry there was no Freeway Jam last night; even bloggers need to go out and tie one on once in awhile.
So, in keeping with tradition, there'll be two updates today as my penance, one later tonight.
Since I had a good time yesterday, and today is Saturday, and Freeway Jam has just passed its two-month anniversay, why not celebrate the drinking song?
A genre unto itself, one that crosses every genre, in all musical styles, the drinking song can be rowdy, repentant, bitter, delirious, macho, disdainful, a whole gamut. The same gamut of drinkers' emotions.
So, let's dive in and see what comes up on the autoplay.
I created a playlist by searching all titles in my library with the folowing keywords: "Drink" "Booze" "Wine" "Beer" "Champagne" "Whiskey" "Roadhouse" and "Alcohol"
This created a pool of 81 titles; this playlist was randomized, and the first 10 titles to come up are profiled. I decided to pluck out "Champagne Supernova (live)" by Oasis, which came up #3, because it isn't really about booze. Ditto Jimmy Rogers' "Kisses Sweeter than Wine", which came up #9. Jam Tags, 1-5 stars, follow.
1. Reverend Horton Heat: Liquor, Beer, and Wine ***
Jim Heath's trio, from Dallas TX, brought psychobilly to the 90's alternative rock crowd. They played a macho rockabilly that celebrated boozing, gambling, sex, cars, and hedonism. They were also capable of straight country songs (always with cockeyed lyrics), among which this song belongs. It's a barroom country number, with some rockabilly guitar to it, from their first major label release. It's fun.
2. Muddy Waters: Whiskey Blues (Sittin' Here And Drinkin') ****
This opens as a standard blues, but with a woozy hint to the guitar, which is more evident during the solo. The lyrics are as despondant as you'd imagine: you've taken all my money/and my baby,too. Rock fans who haven't yet given Muddy Waters a try need to get moving; there'd be no electric Chicago Blues without him, no Rolling Stones, rock would be a whole alternate universe. The album from which this comes, More Real Folk Blues, and its companion, Real Folk Blues, singles collections available as a twofer, is a good place to start.
3. The Doors: Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar) **
I run the risk of offending some readers by saying this, but Jim Morrison was an idiot. Yes, I know he wrote, uh, 'poetry'. But he also was remarkably dumb, as the entire Doors catalog between their good debut and their good swan song will attest. Here, we can't blame him for the song, written by Bertolt Brecht/Kurt Weill. But we can blame him, and fellow not-such-a-genius Ray Manzerak for this inane and ridiculous arrangement, a cross between circus music, an Oktoberfest polka band, and demented cabaret. I know they meant it as a joke, I hope, but as a friend, innocent of who it was, remarked when it came on, "What is this stupid stuff?"
4. Eric Burdon & War: Spill The Wine *****
The well known stream-of-consciousness hit, which still turns up on classic rock radio and in movies all the time. Burdon, formerly with the Animals, had wanted to record with an all-black group, and fronted War's first two albums. He was famously messed-up in those days, delusional about his own popularity, and had engaged in several famous episodes of drug-warp madness. After their second album, War told him to pack his bags. They went on to become one of the 70's most successful funk groups. Burdon never had a hit again, with or without the Animals (he reconvened the original lineup twice, to little success). How good is "Spill The Wine?" It's great, a perfect fusion of idiot-genius lyrics and a good, meaty, funky groove.
5. Bakra Bata': Red Red Wine ***
For steel drums nuts only. I have no information whatsoever about Bakra Bata' except that they recorded two albums in the 90's. This is typical of what you'd expect; perfect for a travelogue to the Carribean, or something. This title is the Neil Diamond song that UB40 had a hit with, and I'll just say that the melody lends itself to steel drums very nicely. An instrumental, I probably should have left it off the list too, but then I couldn't keep calling it a "random" list.
6. Heart: White Lightning and Wine ***
Heart was an album-rock staple in the late 70's, although based on the evidence, they never really were all that good, beyond a handful of hits. Their best album may well be their 1976 debut, from which this was taken. This isn't bad; it's a melodic rocker with some okay hard rock posturing on it. Ann Wilson's voice is pretty good here, and sister Nancy gets a axewoman solo. But if you remember that they were competing with groups like Led Zeppelin and Bad Company for market share, this comes across as extremely slight.
7. ZZ Top: Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers ****
Unless someone can name another, ZZ Top is the longest-lived current band to never have undergone a lineup change, cranking out Texas flavored hard rock like this tune since 1970. Tres Hombres was their breakthough album, and included the more well known "Jesus Just Left Chicago" and the excellent hit "La Grange". This one isn't quite on par with those two, but it's still good stuff, with fuzzy guitars and a meaty blues base.
8. Rev. Gary Davis: Sally, Where'd You Get Your Whiskey? ****
Rev. Gary Davis is a major influence on many folk-rock guitarists, Jorma Kaukonen, Jerry Garcia, and John Fahey among the notables. The Dead covered his "Samson and Delilah" and Kaukonan his "I'll Be All Right", many other titles in his catalog might ring some bells among folk-rock listeners. This recording, recorded in 1971, shortly before his death has a charming spoken introduction, and fine, clean-sounding, instantly distinctive guitar picking. Davis' voice sounds very old at this point, but it still commands attention. While novices should look for Davis' early stuff first, he's in excellent and charming form on this album, too.
9. The New Pornographers: The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism ****
Vancouver's New Pornographers specialize in an aggressive but very tuneful and melodic brand of noise pop; kind of an updated power-pop with trick, progressive arrangements. Fuzzy, crunchy-sounding, with exquisite harmonies from the trio, plus alt-country hottie Neko Case, who handles swaggering rock vocals here with ease. One of my favorite bands of the early 00's.
10. AC/DC: Have a Drink On Me *****
Now this is a drinking song. Or, more accurately, a let's-get-hammered-and-go-apeshit song. From the opening chords, we know we're gonna be in for a good time, and AC/DC doesn't let us down here; they serve up a raucous slab of what they do best. From Back In Black, the band's first album with Brian Johnson filling the late Bon Scott's shoes. Angus Young's riffs make a beeline for the central nervous system, right where they belong.
Looking over the playlist, it's a little too eclectic for a bout of serious drinking. So to flesh it out a little, here's what came up 11-20:
11. Paul McCartney & Wings: Picasso's Last Words (Drink To Me) ***
12. Pere Ubu: Drinking Wine Spodyody *****
13. Henry Mancini: Days Of Wine and Roses **
14. George Thorogood and the Destroyers: One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer ****
15. Elton John: Elderberry Wine ***
16. Lynyrd Skynyrd: Whiskey Rock-A-Roller (live) *****
17. The Kinks: Alcohol ***
18. Atlanta Rhythm Section: Champagne Jam ****
19. Jerry Garcia/David Grisman: Whiskey in the Jar ***
20. Katrina & The Waves: Red Wine and Whiskey *****
Hmm, still feeling woozy. Never mind.
Stop back again 'round midnight for another update at Freeway Jam.
Woozy! I am supprised you can stand after that little lot! Gram just aint ever gonna get in there, shame. Huge GP revival here in the UK thatns to Sid Griffins wonderful docu
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