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Sunday, December 9, 2012

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The Return Of Soundgarden”
By Terrence Cain



When Soundgarden officially disbanded in 1997 I was heartbroken. I was fourteen at the time and barely getting over the demise of Kurt Cobain and the complete unravelling of Nirvana that came after his death in 1994. Never in a million years did I ever think that Chris Cornell, Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron, and Ben Shepherd would ever reunite as the entity known to all as Soundgarden ever again. When news came out in 2010 that Soundgarden would be reuniting I thought that hell had literally frozen over. Here was a band that didn't part in the best of ways, and now they were willing to give the old band another chance to live? It was truly unbelievable to me. It has been sixteen years since the release of their last album, 'Down On The Upside'.
When I found out that Soundgarden were going to make a new album I couldn't believe my eyes as they scrolled across the headlines. Guitarist Kim Thayil later told the press that their new album would basically be picking up where they left off with 'Down On The Upside'. Soundgarden's new album, aptly titled 'King Animal', made its official release on November 12th on vinyl, CD, and digital download. So is 'King Animal' worth the sixteen year wait? You bet it is!
The first single from Soundgarden's new album, “Been Away Too Long”, is a powerful and tasty mix of swirling and chugging guitars from Kim Thayil and Chris Cornell with the awesome bottom end power of bassist Ben Shepherd and drummer Matt Cameron. And Cornell's voice is like a finely aged Bourbon that soothes the ears and satisfies the mind with ominous lines like; “You can walk a million miles and get nowhere” and “This place has a special kind of falling apart, Like they put the whole thing together in the dark”, that make you feel like there is an honesty that hasn't been felt in music in a very long time.
As 'King Animal' rolls along from one track to the next you begin to feel like you're reuniting with an old friend you haven't seen in ages. You feel like your world is finally complete because you didn't know what you were missing until they showed up in your life again to give you something you didn't realize you needed. To give you something new that felt like a well worn pair of shoes that fit just right.
Take for instance the track entitled “Blood On The Valley Floor” that starts with Thayil's signature swirling/wailing guitar riff the rolls right into one of the funkiest bass and drum sounds ever recorded in the history of music. Your ears quickly feel like they've been captured and made sweet love to as they let you sit back and feel the vibes roll through your entire body as Cornell's vocals sweetly kiss your soul with heart felt lyrics like; “Mountains all around, Altogether we stumble, Eleven million clowns, Every one with a razor out.
It has indeed been far too long since Soundgarden released an album. And 'King Animal' is most definitely worth the sixteen year wait. Tracks like “Bones Of Birds” chime back to the old sounds of Soundgarden while tracks like “Rowing” let you in on what the future holds for the members of Soundgarden and their loyal fan base. If you're a hardcore fan of Soundgarden like I am and you haven't gotten yourself a copy of 'King Animal' yet, well all I can say is that you should be ashamed of yourself for not picking up a copy sooner because this is most definitely an amazing work of art that Soundgarden has released in 'King Animal' and it is most definitely worthy of your hard earned money. And if by chance you haven't ever heard of Soundgarden before, well this is a great album to introduce yourself to the awesomeness that is Soundgarden! Grunge isn't dead—it just took an extend nap—and now the sound is alive and well!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"The Future Of Music"
By Terrence Cain

Ever since the invention of the internet peer to peer website known as Napster came to light in 1999 , and the lawsuit that ensued by Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, there has been a major wind change in how music has and will continue to be sold to the consumer. Some people would say that Napster has essentially killed the traditional formula of how musicians and record labels have existed since the early twentieth century, and some of those same people would say that is a very bad thing for the future of music. None of those people however would be musicians. Most musicians would tell you how they got swindled out of literally millions of dollars and had the rights to their music taken away from them.
Without the creation of Napster iTunes would not be the software program it is today where you can digitally download single songs, and even complete albums, for a fairly inexpensive price that you could then put on a personal handheld music such as the iPod and play that download literally anywhere you wanted. Things are changing for the music world, and I for one would say that it is for the better. Because of the invention of iTunes' digital music store musicians can now make their own music without a record label, sell it themselves to their fans, and reap the profits one-hundred percent. It's something musicians have been dreaming of for a very long time.
Musicians, however, have been slow in coming into the digital era of selling their music on iTunes and other formats because their music comes out flat through the compression that digitizing does to the overall sound, but with the advancements being made in technology one day soon musicians will see the pros of going digital and will forgo all the trials and tribulations of trying to get signed to a record label and will instead invest all their time in performing live, maybe even using donation sites, to save money to go into professional recording studios to make their own albums and singles that they can then sell on the internet to anyone in the world who wants to buy their music.
This new era is already happening with some musicians out there. The ones who can afford it are even pressing out their music on vinyl record, some are even transferring their music to cassette tapes, and yes even posting MP3 versions of their music up on iTunes for their loyal fans to purchase. They're simply forgoing the pains of dealing with a third party being involved with their music and going straight to the fans. Fans are even able to get closer to their favorite musicians, within healthy limits of course, thanks to YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter where they can talk to them personally and ask them about when the next album will be coming out or just simply give them feedback on what the musician has done.
I think within the next decade or two record labels will be non-existent and technology will be so advanced that you will literally be able to hear the musician's own hearts beating with their music on the latest iTunes software in high definition deluxe stereo. Of course I am over-exaggerating the heart beat part, but my point is that even though the digital format for music is still in its infancy period it will grow and get better with time and it will be a true god send to musicians around the world who just want to make enough money from their art to be able to do what they do without the hassles of trying to keep their music in their own hands.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

“Alternative Funk: The Real Alternative Music”
By Terrence Cain

Here at The Music Fan's Corner I feel it is my duty to talk about subjects no other magazine, blogger, or newspaper is or would ever be talking about and so this latest article will be doing just that. In the 1980s a new sound-scape of music was created out of the Punk Rock, New Wave, and even the Americana Music scene that was coming of age in the late seventies. This music would first be labeled College Rock because that was mainly where you'd hear this music on the airwaves. With greats like The Replacements, R.E.M., The Pixies, Miracle Legion, The Smithereens, Hüsker Dü, Mudhoney, Firehose, and Soul Asylum—just to name a few—these acts would be setting the stage for the early nineties Grunge and Alternative Rock music to take over the landscape of MTV and radio. Bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, and the Smashing Pumpkins would dominate MTV and radio for the first half of the nineties.
There was, however, something even more “Alternative” to what would become known as Alternative music in the early nineties that would come out of the same melting pot of music in the eighties that would go through it's own numerous label changes as well. Today I can only think of one true label for this music and that is Alternative Funk. These bands incorporated every genre of music under the sun into their sound to show the world that it's okay to embrace all forms of music.
A great many of these bands had moderate to mega success. Some, unfortunately, got left behind because their brand of Alternative Funk was just a bit “too funky” for the record labels who were only looking to make a massive amount of money off the music these bands were making. So in this article I think it only be fitting to highlight the two godfathers of the true face of Alternative's Alternative Music.
In 1983 this quartet formed in the city where most Alternative Funk groups either started or relocated to—Los Angeles, California. They first debuted as Tony Flow & The Miraculously Majestic Masters Of Mayhem, but they soon found a following and quickly renamed themselves the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Lead singer Anthony Kiedis, and bassist Michael “Flea” Balzary, both had a major infatuation with Funk music, particularly Parliament and Funkadelic [both of which were created and headed by singer George Clinton]. They both also had a love for the seventies Punk Rock movement with bands like The Ramones, The Clash, The Dickies, Fear [a band Flea was in for a short time], The Germs, The Dead Kennedys, and Gang Of Four; as well as New Wavers like the Talking Heads and Blondie.
This crazy concoction of influences mixed with guitarist Hillel Slovak's influences that included Jimi Hendrix, Kiss, James Brown, and Gang Of Four that coupled with the awesome power of Jack Irons who had many of the same influences as those of Kiedis, Flea, and Slovak made the first wave of Alternative Funk [Punk Funk as it was known back then] in the seedy clubs of L.A. Within a year the Peppers were signed to major label EMI and released their self-titled debut album in 1984 that unfortunately did not feature Slovak and Irons in their respective places for the recording sessions of the songs they helped craft. They had another band called What Is This? [first called Anthym] that both Slovak and Irons took more seriously than they did the Peppers and had been in together since the late seventies when they were attending high school together. Subsequently What Is This? was signed to a major label around the same time as the Red Hot Chili Peppers which made the situation of Slovak and Irons leaving more difficult.
Replacing Slovak and Irons on guitar and drums was guitarist Jack Sherman and drummer Clifford Martinez. The first Peppers album did not go over well. Even without hearing what the original quartet sounded like on their 1983 demos you can tell why the album failed. The majority of the album was weak and heavily watered down with a cheap New Wave feel that wasn't very appealing. To add insult to injury the album was produced by one of their idols, guitarist Andy Gill of Gang Of Four fame. Gill seemed to be trying to get them to sound like a funky version of Devo which didn't sound well in the afterthought. According to legend Anthony Kiedis and Flea were so upset with the direction of the album's making that they gave producer Andy Gill a pizza box with a turd in it to show him their disgust with what he did with their album.
In 1985, after the failure of What Is This?'s debut album and much infighting in the band, guitarist Hillel Slovak came back for the Peppers' second album aptly titled Freaky Styley. That album to me is a masterpiece. It captured more of what the real Peppers sound was like at the time and it was produced by Parliament-Funkadelic frontman George Clinton. It was a great amalgamation of sounds and influences that gave a real voice to the Alternative Funk sound.
In 1986 drummer Jack Irons returned to the fold and recorded one album with them in 1987 [Uplift Mofo Party Plan] before leaving in 1988 after the drug overdose of guitarist and friend Hillel Slovak. A few months after Slovak's death Anthony Kiedis and Flea were able to recruit guitar prodigy John Frusciante who was a protege of Hillel Slovak. Before settling on a drummer the trio recorded a track called 'Taste The Pain' with drummer Phillip “Fish” Fisher [you'll hear more about him in a moment]. Soon after this session they met and recruited powerhouse drummer Chad Smith who has been with the Peppers since his induction into the band in 1989.
Again their sound drastically changed from one album to the next with 1989's Mother's Milk, but not so drastically as it did from their debut to Freaky Styley, or from their sophomore to Uplift Mofo Party Plan. Mother's Milk to me comes off as a steroid induced version of Uplift Mofo Party Plan. It even seems to take off from where that album ended. On Uplift the last track was 'Organic Anti-Beat Box Band' which had a bit of Hip Hop influenced turntable scratching for the guitar solo. For their opening track on Mother's Milk ['Good Time Boys'] the solo was a sample of a multitude of tunes that sounded like someone flipping through radio stations on an old boom box. One of the songs in the mix was from the other Alternative Funk godfathers, Fishbone. The song they sampled was 'Bonin' In The Boneyard' from Fishbone's 1988 classic LP, Truth & Soul. The drummer of Fishbone is none other than Phillip “Fish” Fisher. See, I told you I'd come back to him.
Sampling wasn't the only thing that was Hip Hop influenced about the Red Hot Chili Peppers either. Singer Anthony Kiedis was more of a rapper than anything in the early days of the Chili Peppers. His influences in the early days would include Kool Moe Dee and Kurtis Blow. The more and more you listen to the music of the Alternative Funk genre, the more and more you can see why it had such a hard time finding its way to the forefront of music. Mixing some many styles and complicating the tunes seems to never get people in America the way it should for some reason. Still to this day many of these groups have an extremely hard time finding themselves in the mainstream airwaves on a constant basis.
Well to cut the story short, the Alternative Funk sound that the Peppers developed for eight long years garnered them mainstream success in 1991 with Blood Sugar Sex Magik, which oddly enough was released on the same day as another sub-genre of Alternative Music that came to the forefront of mainstream culture. That's right, their album debuted the same day as Nirvana's Nevermind album. It just seems like the stars and planets were aligned just right that day for two genres to come of age on the same day, not to mention both albums are classic masterpieces.
The unfortunate part of this happening is that Grunge would become the most dominant part and bands in the Alternative Funk genre would either be ignored or never get the fruits of their labor that they truly deserved; which brings me to the other godfathers of the Alternative Funk movement.
This sextet formed in 1979 while all in the ninth grade in Los Angeles. While trying to come up with their sound of a unique mix of Reggae, Punk, and Funk [later bits of Soul, Folk, and Heavy Metal would be added to their sound] bassist John Norwood Fisher [simply known as Norwood Fisher today] attempted to take Reggae and speed it up with Punk Rock ferocity. He actually thought that he had created a new genre that he called Reggae Punk in a recent online article about the birth of Fishbone. It turned out though that he was playing what is commonly known as Ska; which ironically is where Reggae formed from in the Jamaican dance halls of the early 1960s with The Wailers [Bob Marley's group before they broke up and went solo], as well as a few other lesser known groups.
To paraphrase what Norwood Fisher said in the Fishbone documentary: “Everyday Sunshine: The Story Of Fishbone”; “We were simply being influenced by everything that was coming out at the time.” So like the Red Hot Chili Peppers they were being influenced by all the same kinds of music that was blowing up in the sixties, seventies, and early eighties.
The original lineup composed of Norwood Fisher on bass and backing vocals, his brother Phillip “Fish” Fisher on drums, Angelo Moore on lead vocals and saxophone [he would later incorporate the theramin into Fishbone's sound], “Dirty” Walt(er) Kibby II on trumpet and lead/backing vocals, Chris Dowd on keyboards, trumpet and lead/backing vocals, and guitarist Kendall Jones who would also sing on occasion. Later lefty guitarist John Bigham would join Fishbone in 1989 to add to their flavor of Alternative Funk.
The biggest shame to happen to Fishbone, however, was in 1991 when they released their third LP entitled The Reality Of My Surroundings. This album was thought to be their major breakthrough, but it only made it to #49 on the charts and quickly sank thereafter. One could make the argument that it may have faired much better if it had been released after Nirvana's Nevermind, and even perhaps after the Peppers' Blood Sugar Sex Magik album, but one could only say that in hindsight because no one could foresee the massive success of Nirvana's Nevermind or the domino effect it would have in bringing forth all sub-genres under the Alternative banner.
One could make the argument that the Peppers' Magik album could have possibly flopped too if it had been released in the early half of 1991 just as Fishbone's album was, but again that's pure speculation as well. Listening to both albums you hear similarities. Both were very eclectic albums. Both had songs that varied in sounds and styles from one other. Both were heavily rooted in seventies Parliament-Funkadelic sex filled Space Funk, and both bands came from L.A so that added into the flavor as well.
Now the one thing that a lot of people seem to gravitate towards as to why the Peppers had massive success, and continue to do so, is because the Peppers are an all-white band and all the members of Fishbone are black. I'd rather refuse that notion myself. I'd hate to think that people distanced themselves from Fishbone because of the color of their skin. And if you're one of those who did, well then shame on you. Now it would be understandable if the label decided to not give them proper due because of skin color, but then why have other black artists had so much success?
That is the ultimate question though, isn't it? Why did Fishbone not find superstar success and yet the Red Hot Chili Peppers did? It could be said that Fishbone's album sounded a little outdated, like it was an album that should have been released in 1989, not 1991. I am not so convinced myself of this notion, so let's see some points that were made over the years about The Reality Of My Surroundings album by fans of their music.
There has been people I know personally who say that Fishbone sounded like they were imitating the Pepper's Mother's Milk album, which was released in 1989 and would further be making the attempt to validate that theory of it being an album reminiscent of the Alternative Funk sound of 1989. While I admit bits and pieces of Surroundings does sound like something influenced by Mother's Milk, it still sounds like its own entity to me because of it's wide variety of sounds and the overall tone of the album. I've heard people even compare the guitar sound on Surroundings to be mimicking that of Vernon Reid of Living Colour [not to be confused with the 90s comedy sketch show In Living Colour], another Alternative Funk quartet which happened to come from New York City.
While I do hear some of the influences that people have mentioned to me over the years I still feel that something altogether is missing in the puzzle of why Surroundings never reached past #49 on the Billboard charts; or why none of their other albums have had any better success since that time. Even the single that everyone was sure would get them on Billboard's Hot 100, 'Everyday Sunshine', did not even chart. Sure, it reached #14 on Billboard's Modern Rock charts, but labels consider it a flop if you don't have success with your singles on Billboard's Hot 100. The problem I could easily see with people not liking 'Everyday Sunshine' is that even though it was a Fishbone original it sounded like a mix of a Stevie Wonder and Sly & The Family Stone rather than something completely original.
If you look closely at the trajectory of Fishbone's record sales from their start in 1985 with their self-titled debut EP to now, it looks like a wild roller coaster ride that took a sharp downward spiral after 1991's The Reality Of MySurroundings was released.
To add insult to injury their label [Columbia Records] dropped them after 1993's Give A Monkey A Brain & He'll Swear He's The Center Of The Universe was released and only reached #99 on the charts. I will have to admit that I don't think that album was all that great myself. The first three tracks are purely Heavy Metal based, and I'm not talking good Heavy Metal either, with lyrics that were very depressing to hear. This album was just a product of its environment because this album was recorded just after the Rodney King trial and its subsequent riots in L.A. [a result of the jury not finding the police guilty in the beating of Rodney King.]
Sadly this would be the departure of it's first of four original members. Guitarist Kendall Jones began a downward spiral after his mother had died of cancer, which caused him to have a mental breakdown. He would later join a cult ran by his estranged father who was brainwashing him at the same time. It didn't help that at the same time the Rodney King trial and L.A. riots went down , and just before that their 1991 release failed to bring them mass success as they thought it would.
To try and save their guitarist and friend Norwood Fisher, Kendall Jone's brothers, and Jones' girlfriend tried to rescue him through adult intervention but wound up in court on false kidnapping charges filed by Jones himself. Thankfully everyone involved was cleared of all charges. This would be the last anyone would see of Kendall Jones until some fifteen years later when he showed up at a Fishbone gig in L.A. and played that night with them that was captured on film for the Fishbone documentary [which you can stream direct on Netflix as we speak].
Soon after these events keyboardist Chris Dowd left, then their other guitarist John Bigham followed by drummer Fish Fisher and finally Dirty Walt in 2003 who thankfully returned to the band in 2010. This band has went through the most hell of all the Alternative Funk acts and even though I feel like I've addressed some of the reasons as to what could have possibly been what kept them from getting the brass ring they deserved, it still seems like the real reason why has an answer of “The world may never know” type of feeling to me.
Of the two godfathers of Alternative Funk Fishbone has had the most influence on future Alternative Funk acts. Bands such as No Doubt, 311, and Incubus are among the many who claim to have started bands because of or been heavily influenced by Fishbone.
I think this entire world would be better off if people would be more accepting of numerous genres of music as bands like Fishbone and the Red Hot Chili Peppers have been. I think we'd be more unified as a species and be less willing to fight and argue so much because hopefully we'd see eye to eye much more.
In all it does seem like a multitude of things were dead set against Fishbone having the success the deserved when they were at their peak in 1991. Don't worry about Fishbone though. They're still making great music today and getting some much deserved recognition with the release of their documentary. I highly recommend you go out and get their new EP entitled Crazy Glue and the Red Hot Chili Peppers' latest LP entitled I'm With You. They're both great albums and totally worth your time. As a matter of fact you should go get their older stuff too because they're all classic albums in my opinion.
There are hundreds upon hundreds of bands all over the world that fit under the banner of Alternative Funk, but I just want to showcase a few of these bands to you, so I will post my favorite Alternative Funk tunes below. I will also showcase one song from each of Fishbone and the Red Hot Chili Peppers' albums that I think you'll like as much as I do. Enjoy the music and thanks for reading this article!

Fishbone:
'Part At Ground Zero' – This song was originally released on their 1985 self-titled debut EP. It was originally called 'Pink Vapor Stew' when they recorded it as a demo for producer David Kahne who discovered them and got them signed to Columbia Records. This song has that Ska flavor with a bit of classic Soul and New Orleans Jazz with lyrical content cemented in 1960s poetic folk rebellion against government powers.

'When Problems Arise' – This song was the opener for their 1986 album, In Your Face. 'When Problems Arise' has a lot of Soul and Funk in it with a bit of a carousel style in the keyboards' sound. It also has that haunting eerie sound found in the 1984 movie, Ghostbusters. I really dig the Egyptian like guitar solo from guitarist Kendall Jones as well. The whole track is tight and it's a great song to open a great first LP for the band.

'Ma & Pa' – So many great songs to pick, and if I could I'd put them all here for you to hear, but then you wouldn't go out and buy their albums, thus making this whole article pointless! This is a great track from their 1988 sophomore LP entitled Truth & Soul. It's definitely got a Pop Music feeling to it with conscientious lyrics that describe the plight of broken families. This track mixes Soul and Ska really well together.

'Sunless Saturday' – In 1991 Fishbone released The Reality Of My Surroundings album with this song as its final track. This song has almost every thinkable style of music in it. It starts out with a folkesque acoustic guitar riff, then it kicks in with eighties Power Pop drumming followed by Heavy Metal guitar riffing with an awesome guitar solo, an overabundant amount of Soul style singing, Synth Pop keyboards, and the song finishes off nicely with a Beatles-like horn section at the end of the song. This song is just an amazing amalgamation of sounds with words that will blow your mind as to how surreal they are!

'Black Flowers' – In 1993 Fishbone released Give A Monkey A Brain & He'll Swear He's The Center Of The Universe. This album was sub-par compared to The Reality Of My Surroundings. Still though, there were some good songs on it. 'Black Flowers' is one of those. A very haunting melody with a very soulful mix steeped in Heavy Metal sadness.

'In The Cube' – In 1996 Fishbone released Chim Chim's Badass Revenge. This song has a great beat with a weird time signature and a blistering Spanish influenced horn section. The lyrics are very tongue in cheek with a sound that's very fun to jump around to.

'Shakey Ground' – It would be four years before Fishbone would release another album, but when they finally did in 2000 with Fishbone & The Family Nextperience Present: The Psychotic friends Nutterwerx they seemed to be back on top of their game, although according to their guitarist at the time [Spacey T], they were forced to do the album in a way that was unnatural to them. The album was filled with guest appearances ranging from George Clinton and Rick James to Gwen Stefani and Paul Hudson (aka H.R.) of Bad Brains. This track happened to feature fellow Alternative Funk mates from the Red Hot Chili Peppers with bassist Flea and guitarist John Frusciante. The song sounds very seventies Funk with a very dirty vibe to it.

'Skank N' Go Nuttz' – In 2006 Fishbone released their latest LP, Still Stuck In Your Throat. Producer David Kahne returned to record this album with the band who had done the majority of their earlier albums on Columbia Records. The album was given heavy promotion, but at the last minute the distributer of the album left the music business and caused the album to go without proper promotion. This frantic track is probably my favorite from the album because it sounds like a true classic Fishbone tune.

'Crazy Glue' – In 2011 Fishbone released their fifth EP, Crazy Glue. This was the first album that Dirty Walt had been on since their 2002 LP. The EP is a refreshing classic sound of what Fishbone was all about in the eighties, and this track has one of the best sounds I've heard in a long time from Fishbone.

Red Hot Chili Peppers:
'Get Up & Jump' – If the entire first album had sounded closer to this track than to 'True Men Don't Kill Coyotes' I think the album would have been far better received. This song is very lively, very exciting, and it is a song that truly makes you want to get up and jump around!

'American Ghost Dance' – In 1985 Freaky Styley was released, and like their first album it didn't do much better on the charts. The problem with this album, as it is for most Alternative Funk music, is that radio stations and record labels don't know where to play the music. The music isn't so neatly fit into one officially labeled genre of music so to speak. This track was chosen for its political lyrics and it's very funky and slow groove.

'Walkin' On Down The Road' – In 1987 the Peppers released their only album to feature all four original members of the band. Uplift Mofo Party Plan was their first album to garner some much deserved success, reaching #148 on the charts. I chose this particular tune for it's pure weirdness. To me 'Walkin' On Down The Road' sounds like a Country song saturated in Funk and Blues rhythms. It's one of the rare songs from that period that Anthony Kiedis actually sings on too. It's a tune I love for sure.

'Taste The Pain' – In 1989 the Peppers released Mother's Milk, the first of many albums to feature new members John Frusciante and Chad Smith. This track, as I mentioned before, was one that was recored early on before Smith joined with Fishbone's drummer—Fish Fisher. In the wake of the death of original guitarist, Hillel Slovak, singer Anthony Kiedis decided to clean up his act and stop doing heroin as well. This song, and 'Knock Me Down', were two songs written about the events surrounding Kiedis' newfound sobriety.

'If You Have To Ask' – In 1991 the Peppers released their massively successful album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik. This was my first proper introduction to the Peppers. Although I had first heard of them in the eighties when they did a song for the Tough Guys soundtrack, this was the album where I became truly interested in the band. It's a song steeped in Funk and one of my all-time favorite tunes.

'Falling Into Grace' – Months after the release of BSSM guitarist John Frusciante quit the band due to fears of fame and fortune being thrust upon the band. Jane's Addiction guitarist, Dave Navarro, would replace Frusciante for their 1995 album aptly titled One Hot Minute. This album was radically different from their previous album, as all of their albums are, but seemed to be too drastic for many fans who were looking for another BSSM album. 'Falling Into Grace' is steeply and heavily in Funk and Rock sounds. It has great soulful harmonies as well.

'Right On Time' – In 1999 the Peppers returned with a newly sobered John Frusciante and released the highly anticipated album Californication. 'Right On Time' is a short but sweet tune that harkens back to the days of Uplift Mofo Party Plan with its fast grooves, Hip Hop inspired rhymes, and funky guitar and bass riffs.

'Minor Thing' – This is probably the funkiest tune from 2002's By They Way, a mostly melodic and guitar solo-less album. The guitar nuts out there would wind up being upset because of the guitar prodigy denying them more blazing solos as he had done on other recordings. It's still a great album, but very melancholy. 'Minor Thing' has a great up beat feeling with a funky rhythm to it. It's a song I truly love from this album.

'Strip My Mind' - In 2006 the Peppers released their first #1 album, and also first double album, entitled Stadium Arcadium. This would be the last album to feature John Frusciante who decided his time was better spent making more solo albums, which hasn't settled well with some Peppers fans. While this album is great in a lot of ways, I don't think it's their finest release ever either. Like The Clash's Sandinista triple album, Stadium Arcadium would have been better off as a single release. 'Strip My Mind' is one of the best songs in all of the Peppers' entire catalog. It's a very slow and soulful song with a blistering and tear jerking guitar solo. If this song doesn't move you then there is something wrong with you.

'Dance Dance Dance' – In 2011 the Peppers released the much anticipated album entitled I'm With You with their new guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer. Klinghoffer had known the band for years and was a protege of Frusciante's much in the same way Frusciante was to Hillel Slovak. Klinghoffer did a lot of work on Frusciante's solo records and even went on tour with the Peppers during the last leg of the Peppers' Stadium Arcadium tour. On this album the Peppers went for a Disco feel on a lot of the tunes, but still retained the funky core of the group. 'Dance Dance Dance' is the last track from the album and it's a great upbeat track with a very airy sounding guitar and funky bass line.

Jane's Addiction:
'Been Caught Stealing' – Another great band from Los Angeles. This band was more influenced by The Doors, Led Zeppelin, and The Beach Boys than by Parliament-Funkadelic or Sly & The Family Stone like the other bands had been. This was the first song I ever heard from them, and subsequently from their last album until 2003's Strays album. 'Been Caught Stealing' is probably their funkiest track ever made and it comes from 1990's Ritual De Lo Habitual.

Living Colour:
'What's Your Favorite Color?' – Everyone seems to know Living Colour only for their hit 1988 song 'Cult Of Personality', but they made tons of other great songs aside from their only real hit. This song is one of those and it's probably their funkiest tune as well. This track can be found on their debut album, Vivid.

Faith No More:
'Epic' – This band was another one hit wonder, much like Living Colour. Also like Living Colour they had more great tunes to share than they were ever given recognition for. Bands in the Alternative Funk genre seem to never be able to get mass recognition as they deserve because people tend to hate what they can't grasp, especially if your style is all other styles combined. This song is heavy, funky, and filled with rhyming lyrics much in the same way Anthony Kiedis of the Peppers used to rap.

Spin Doctors:
'Two Princes' – This band had multiple hits in the early nineties from their debut album, Pocket Full Of Kryptonite. The band is unfortunately on hiatus, but that doesn't stop me from playing that album and their other works constantly. This was my introduction to the band and I've loved their work ever since. The song is poppy, funky, and a great love song.

Primus:
'Jerry Was A Race Car Driver' – Of all the Alternative Funk bands to ever come alive; I would have to say that Primus is the weirdest of them all. Of course I mean that in a good way. Most people probably know them for their song 'My Name Is Mud', but they released a ton of great music over the years. Songs like 'Mr. Krinkle', 'Wynona's Big Brown Beaver', 'Tommy The Cat' and many others. It's very hard to describe Primus' sound. It's steeped in Metal, but it's got a weird Funk sound to it too. Check this tune out and you'll see what I mean.

Infectious Grooves:
'Feed The Monkey' – Infectious Grooves came straight out of Venice Beach, California kicking and screaming their way through the static. Unfortunately they never really made a breakthrough album or single to be remembered by. This band once had drummer Steven Perkins of Jane's Addiction fame and Robert Trujillo, current bass player for Metallica, in it. This song was made famous in the Pauley Shore film, Encino Man. If you notice at the beginning of the tune, Infectious Grooves steals Rush's 'YYZ' song.

No Doubt:
'Sunday Morning' – When No Doubt hit the scene they were given the label of Ska Punk but in all reality they were so much more than that and easily fit into the unofficial Alternative Funk label. This is my all-time favorite song of theirs from their second LP, 1995's Tragic Kingdom. 'Sunday Morning' is a very soulful tune with a bit of a Pop feel and heavy guitar riffing as well.

311:
'Sweet' – Of all places to come from, no one would have ever thought that something this funky would have ever come out of Omaha, Nebraska. Their self-titled album was their third, and in 1995 it was their big breakthrough. My introduction to 311 was the Metal based song 'Down', but this hidden treasure in the album sounds like a Funk tune underwater.

Incubus:
'Summer Romance (Anti-Gravity Love Song)' – When Incubus hit the scene in 1999 with 'Pardon Me' they were being looped in with the Nu Metal scene, again being stuffed in the wrong genre of music. Most of Incubus' early tunes were extremely funky and carried all different kinds of music in their songs. 'Summer Romance' has a very Rhythm & Blues feeling to it with some sleigh bells and vinyl static for added flavoring. The vocals on this song are astounding to hear from singer Brandon Boyd as well.

Shootyz Groove:
'The L Train' – I first discovered this group on a television music show called Reverb, a music variety program that taped live concerts and was aired on HBO. Sadly the show no longer exists. Shootyz Groove hails from the Bronx in New York and have been making records since 1993. They're still a relatively unknown band, but they're one of the best I've ever heard. This track is just filled with love and funkiness. It's great to hear two rappers as well.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Hello Old Friend: The Return Of Vinyl"
By Terrence Cain

It was once considered a dead format for music; but it seems in this modern age of digital downloading that this so-called “dead” art form is now reviving its self. For someone like me this makes the future of music look very bright. In case you skipped the title of this article I am referring to vinyl records. Before 1990 vinyl was the most widely used format in selling music to the listener; in second place was cassette tapes. Sadly though, I do not see cassette tapes ever making a comeback. I wish they would though because I miss that period in time when indie music magazines would have a pen pal section in the back where you could get in touch with other music fans who would trade homemade mix tapes with you for nothing more than a long distance friendship and some new sounds in your ear. I know that you can do pretty much the same thing today with e-mails and MP3s, but e-mails and MP3s have no warmth or life to them. That's where the return of vinyl comes into the foreground.
Within the last five years or so vinyl records have been making a slow and steady return to the forefront of music sales. In 2011 vinyl records counted for 25% percent of all music sales according to Nielsen's Sound Scan. It's a small percentage, yes, but it's the biggest in over fifteen years and it's a good sign of things to come for vinyl if they keep taking an upturn like this. Even independent record stores are starting to see an increase in customers who are seeking out vinyl, so it's not just an online thing.
For someone like me vinyl records bring warmth and character to the music. You also get visuals with the artwork. There is nothing quite like having an audio and visual sensation together at the same time. That's my speculation about the teens who are buying vinyl today. That's right, teens are buying vinyl too. It's a bit shocking to adults like me who grew up with vinyl because many young teens don't even know what vinyl records are if their parents never had any to begin with. It just goes to show that no matter what feelings will always be engrained in human beings. People will always have a urning to want to feel and experience new things, even if it's an older tradition. So do the world of music a favor and buy vinyl exclusively, let's bring back that special experience to the mainstream. If you don't have a record player anymore you can find numerous ones on Amazon. It's a great place to find vinyl online as well if you don't have a local record store to visit.