“The intermediate stage between socialism and capitalism is alcoholism.”

Friday, July 29, 2005

Flashback Friday

Time now for another exciting (yay!) episode of...

(otherwise known as music from my collection that you can download for free, at least for the next 7 days, it doesn't sound as fancy put like that now does it?)

This Friday's musical theme is going to be songs about "MEAN" people. I'm still pretty busy at work so I'll keep the commentary short and sweet this time. I'll include links for the artist's to allmusic.com and you can read more there if you're interested. I hope you enjoy the picks and have a great weekend. I'm headed up north to do some camping and canoeing...and of course drinking, I wouldn't want to disappoint!

Eric Clapton - Mean Old Frisco

Here's one of my favorite tracks from Eric Clapton's Slowhand album. It's got a pretty sweet groove to it and along with The Core and Cocaine, really stands out from the rest of the songs on this album. Overall it's a pretty good outing from Clapton scoring a number of hits with the likes of Lay Down Sally, Wonderful Tonight (my wedding song by the way), as well as the tracks listed previously. Mean Old Frisco is pretty much a straight forward blues track in the laid back style that this whole album seems to have. Along with 461 Ocean Boulevard this is probably one of Clapton's best solo albums. I still say that Jimmy Page is the better guitarist though! (I had to fly my flag in that never-ending battle!)

Johnny Winter - Mean Town Blues

Blues guitarist Winter became a major star in the late '60s and early '70s. Since that time he's confirmed his reputation in the blues by working with Muddy Watersand continuing to play in the style, despite musical fashion. Born in Beaumont, TX, Winter formed his first band at 14 with his brother Edgar in Beaumont, and spent his youth in recording studios cutting regional singles and in bars playing the blues. His discovery on a national level came via an article in Rolling Stone in 1968, which led to a management contract with New York club owner Steve Paul, and a record deal with Columbia. His debut album (there are numerous albums of juvenilia), Johnny Winter, reached the charts in 1969. Starting out with a trio, Winter later formed a band with former members of The McCoys, including second guitarist Rick Derringer. It was called Johnny Winter And. He achieved a sales peak in 1971 with the gold-selling Live/Johnny Winter And. He returned in 1973 with Still Alive and Well, his highest-charting album. His albums became more overtly blues-oriented in the late '70s and he also produced several albums for Muddy Waters. In the '80s he switched to the blues label Alligator for three albums, and has since recorded for the labels MCA and Pointblank/Virgin.

This song is from an album titled The Progressive Blues Experiment originally issued by Imperial Records and later re-released by Columbia. This was probably the first album that brought Winter to the national attention of guitar players in America. Mean Town Blues is an original song by Winter and nicely showcases his blues chops without a glimmer of rock commercialization. Sit back and just enjoy this one.

Grand Funk Railroad - Mean Mistreater

Here's a track from Grand Funk's Closer to Home album. I'm a pretty big fan of Grand Funk Railroad for their music but also because they hailed from Flint, MI. Flint, MI is about 45 minutes South of where I currently live and also happens to be where I went to college/partied for a few years. Anyway, back to the subject at hand...One of the most interesting elements of Closer to Home is that it found Grand Funk Railroad varying its sound on a few tracks by replacing its usual guitar edge with keyboards. The most effective keyboard-driven song on the album was "Mean Mistreater," a slow-burning power ballad that proved the group could be just as fierce without a guitar. The lyrics are reminiscent of the group's previous tune "Heartbreaker" in that they present a narrator who is both repelled by and drawn to a woman who is bad for him: despite the complaint "you lay around and watch me die," he comes to the conclusion "I'm needin' you to set me free." The music is a bluesy style that avoids pop-song verse/chorus concerns in favor of a single, repeated verse melody that features a repeating two-note hook at the end that creates a haunting feel. Grand Funk Railroad's recording of "Mean Mistreater" adds a sense of dynamics into the mix by underpinning the verses with a solo electric piano accompaniment and alternating these verses with instrumental breaks that underpin Mark Farner's bluesy keyboard solos with a frenetic, insistent throb from the rhythm section. The result was different from the group's previous guitar-driven epics but heavy enough to sit alongside such songs. As a result, "Mean Mistreater" quickly became a live favorite, and a live recording of the song became a Top 50 single on the pop charts. "Mean Mistreater" also inspired a notable cover by the Bar-Kays, who reworked the song into an ominous funk epic full of drawling horns and sinuous jamming.

Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac - Mean Mistreatin' Mama

Mean Mistreatin' Mama is an old Elmore James tune and appears on the 1995 two-disc collection Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac - Live at the BBC. If you've ever wondered what the original Fleetwood Mac really sounded like, these BBC Recordings give a very good idea. They're one part blues band, one part oldies act, one part serious, and one part tongue very much in cheek. Any band that could play Elmore James and B.B. King blues with absolute precision and passion one minute and become a drunken lunatic rockabilly band the next had to have chops and a sense of humor and this version of the Mac had both in spades. Jeremy Spencer craziness balances out Peter Green's seriousness, while Kirwan and the rhythm section of McVie and Fleetwood rope it all in. An illuminating two disc set that any roots music or blues lover will adore. Highly recommended.

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Mean Heart

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's funky wild blues on critical albums like Orange and Now I Got Worry defined the band as being in a league of its own. With an intoxicating and sexy vocal growl, Spencer united with bassist Judah Bauer and drummer Russell Simins to define raw rock & roll outside of grunge, post-grunge, and modern rock throughout the 1990s.
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's eighth record, Plastic Fang, doesn't overlook anything this time, for the album exudes a new power. Spencer and his mates sought the expertise and slick work of musician/producer Steve Jordan, who brought brashness back to the front on Plastic Fang. A Rolling Stones-like romp, "Mean Heart" is truly killer. It's Spencer's best take on a ballad, too, and it's bittersweet, but he's not totally hung up on love. As a songwriter, Spencer is impressive. Plastic Fang isn't exactly focused on one particular sound. It's simple, and the depth behind the band's musicianship has expanded into something fiery once more. With Jordan's assistance, Plastic Fang sounds live and abrasive, and it's infectiously undeniable.


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