Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Lil' Ain't Enough

Sit back, kiddies. I'm going to tell you the tale of a music video that is simultaneously the greatest and worst thing I've ever seen. It's the story of a once-great star on the cusp of a serious career decline. And it's a case of horrendous timing.

It was January 1991. It was a strange time. The U.S. had just entered the first Gulf War, launching airstrikes on Iraq. The Berlin Wall was coming down. The Soviet Union was breaking apart. And David Lee Roth was about to embark on a quarter-century career dip before he finally rejoined his old band.

Roth was not yet six years removed from his first stint with the mighty Van Halen, which was the one of the biggest bands in the world before he parted ways with Eddie, Alex and Michael Anthony. DLR's first solo effort was impressive: 1986's Eat 'Em and Smile, featuring a killer band comprised of virtuoso players Steve Vai and Billy Sheehan. It was a lean, mean hard rock beast that contrasted well with VH's first Sammy Hagar album, 5150, which had its share of rockers but also continued Eddie Van Halen's fascination with keyboards. I saw both bands in the summer of 1986 at the Portland Civic Center in Maine and DLR was better by far.

His follow-up, 1988's Skyscraper, went in a different direction altogether, as Roth became interested in danceable pop and lightened the hard rock edge with tons of synths. It sold well, about 2 million copies in the U.S., but Vai and Sheehan were not pleased with the change in sound and left the band (Sheehan after the album release, Vai after the tour). DLR went back to a hard rock sound on his next album, A Little Ain't Enough, which was released in January 1991. He brought in 19-year-old guitar wunderkind Jason Becker and producer Bob Rock and things were looking up. Or so he thought. Before the tour began, Becker was diagnosed with ALS and was unable to continue.

Which brings us to the video in question, for the "title track" (quotes used because it's not spelled the same), "A Lil' Ain't Enough." I remember seeing the video premiere on MTV; as it turned out, the clip only aired a few more times before MTV decided to ban it because of the scantily clad women throughout. I bought the CD when it came out, but I only listened to it a few times before moving on; eventually I sold it to a used CD store.

I hadn't given the video much thought since it came out until I was bored and started watching old videos on YouTube and stumbled across this one. It's got all the earmarks of a DLR video of the time: Dave jumping around doing high kicks, doing his hammy "wocka wocka" schtick (which I love, BTW); hot chicks all over the place, wearing not a whole lot (but really not much different than his "California Girls" video from 1985); the familiar synth-drenched hard rock sound he'd been trafficking in; and the slapstick antics he liked to include in his videos.

But the repeat viewing also reveals the following:

  • Recession. I didn't notice it at the time, but Dave's hairline here is clearly racing upward. He was still wearing it long, but it wasn't what it was even a few years earlier. Fast-forward to 1994 and Dave actually had cut his hair shorter. But the mighty DLR mane declined to the point where he recently decided to shave his head for an appearance with the Foo Fighters in January.
  • A massive pink jeep that DLR drives throughout the video. Absolutely ridiculous looking, but fitting with Dave's Big Rock ethos.
  • Little people in blackface. You read that right. At the 1:58 mark of the video, there's a Busby Berkeley-esque sequence featuring DLR standing in the middle of a circle of little people wearing blackface and Afro wigs. Honestly, I don't know how I forgot I about that. I don't think it's racist so much as...ill-advised. Still, wow.
  • Gym babes. Dave sings while surrounded by bikini babes working out on Nautilus equipment because, you know, boobs.
  • Football stadium. Dave's dancing around a bunch of cheerleaders in a stadium, then strutting past a line of women holding guitars in front of a zillion amps. Then back to the little people, this time doing pelvic thrusts. This video is truly insane.
  • 50-foot-long boom box. The sight gags continue. Get it? A little ain't enough, so everything's big (except for the little people, I guess).
  • Old and fat. In the last section of the video, Roth presciently fast forwards to Oct. 10, 2021 to "Diamond Dave: THE ABSOLUTE FINAL TOUR" at a sold-out Anaheim Stadium. At the time it was 30 years away; now it's only six. DLR's back in a fat suit, like he did in the "Goin' Crazy" video from 1986, doing goofy dance moves. He's still in pretty good shape, so it's doubtful he'll be gigantic in six years, but he was also wrong about the hair: It was long in the video but as we know, it's all gone now.
I have no idea what DLR spent on this video, but it couldn't have been cheap. Had to be at least $1 million. For maybe four airings on MTV. There were other videos and singles from this album, but they didn't fare much better. The album went gold, but it was quickly forgotten and by the end of the year, Roth's brand of spandexed hard rock was pretty much extinct. Bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains soon dominated the sales, MTV and the radio.

As for DLR, in the decades that followed, he periodically released albums that sold less and less, had an infamous and short-lived reunion with Van Halen at the 1996 VMAs, appeared on The Sopranos, had a brief stint as Howard Stern's morning radio replacement, became an EMT, was busted for buying weed, wrote an autobiography, played with the Boston Pops and performed on an album of bluegrass covers of Van Halen. Hey, he kept himself busy. And then in 2007, he reunited with Van Halen again for an initial tour and a 2012 album/tour. It's looking doubtful that another VH album will happen anytime soon, if at all. They announced a live album release from the last tour.

So even if there's no more new Van Halen material or tours, things seem to have turned around for good ol' DLR. But it was one ill-timed and ridiculously awesome video that led to a prolonged dry stretch for Diamond Dave.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Stuck In Thee Garage #70: February 27, 2015

The show was back this week after technical difficulties forced me to go with a rerun last week. But Stuck In Thee Garage was back with a vengeance this week. In hour 2, the theme is songs about fire, of which there are many. No Hendrix, but he was certainly an innovator when it came to fire.

The flame-broiled playlist:

Hour 1
Artist - Song/Album
Krill - Squirrels/A Distant Fist Unclenching
Fond Han - Hub City Blues/single
Big Putts - Nosejob Junkies/Bogey Nights
White Fence - Nero (Has a Lot to Think About)/LAMC #12
Jack Name - Belly Full of Blood/LAMC #12
Viet Cong - Continental Shelf/Viet Cong
PWR BTTM - Hold Yer Tongue/Republican National Convention
Jawbreaker Reunion - Adventure Time/Republican National Convention
The Mountain Goats - The Legend of Chavo Guerrero/Beat the Champ
Split Single - My Heart is Your Shadow/Fragmented World
Bob Mould - Nemeses Are Laughing/Beauty & Ruin
Modest Mouse - Tiny Cities Made of Ashes/The Moon and Antarctica
Volcano Suns - White Elephant/All Night Lotus Party
Mission of Burma - Nicotine Bomb/ONoffON
The Dambuilders - Teenage Loser Anthem/Ruby Red
The Hellacopters - Psyched Out and Furious/Payin' the Dues
Bullet Lavolta - Over the Shoulder/The Gift

Hour 2: Fire!
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown - Fire/The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
The Afghan Whigs - I Am Fire/Do to the Beast
Mark Lanegan - Burning Jacob's Ladder/The Gravedigger's Song
M.I.A.-Diplo - Fire Bam (Diplo Mix)/Piracy Funds Terrorism Volume 1
Frank Black - I Burn Today/Honeycomb
Chris Whitley - Fire Road/Soft Dangerous Shores
R.E.M. - Fireplace/Document
Against Me! - Burn/Crime as Forgiven By
Ben Folds Five - Smoke/Whatever and Ever Amen
Broken Social Scene - Fire Eye'd Boy/Broken Social Scene
Iceage - Burning Hand/You're Nothing
Ministry - Burning Inside/The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste
Eagles of Death Metal - Flames Go Higher/Peace Love Death Metal
Motorhead - Fire Fire/Ace of Spades
Blue Oyster Cult - Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll (live)/Tyranny and Mutation
Van Halen - On Fire/Van Halen

Stuck In Thee Garage 70 by Koomdogg on Mixcloud


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Completely Conspicuous 364: Reeling In the Years, 1993 (Part 1)

Part 1 of my conversation with guest Brian Salvatore as we look back at the music of 1993. Listen to the episode below or download directly (right click and "save as").
Show notes:
- Recorded via Skype
- Check out Brian's radio show Unsolicited Mixtape
- In'93, Brian was 10, Jay was 25
- First year Brian was interested in pop culture
- Jay was into the first wave of grunge
- Brian's failsafe plan involving an Adam Sandler tape
- SNL40 was strange because of the live audience of celebs
- '93 was a big year for R&B and mainstream hip hop
- Pharrell's guest verse on "Rump Shaker"
- Not much rock on the year-end Hot 100
- Whoomp and Whoot There It Is
- Nary a trace of hair metal to be found anywhere
- Formed: At the Drive-In, Backstreet Boys, Wilco, Ben Folds Five, Spoon, Korn
- Broke up: Echo and the Bunnymen, New Order, Stryper, Television, Triumph, Venom
- Puzzling Rock Hall picks
- In '93, Prince changed his name to a symbol
- Bill Wyman's adventures in wedded bliss
- Michael Jackson's legal troubles
- Shaq Diesel and Coverdale-Page also made appearances
- To be continued

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blog Clicky Clicky. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Stuck In Thee Garage #69: February 13, 2015

Sometimes when people team up, great things happen. It doesn't matter if you're an athlete, actor, plumber or musician. This week in hour 2 of Stuck In Thee Garage, I played musical team-ups, which can take the form of two artists forming a new band, a guest spot on an album, or jumping up onstage to join a band for a song or two.

They can only hope to be as good as these two were in Midnight Run:

The Duke's playlist:

Hour 1 
Artist - Song/Album
Courtney Barnett - Pedestrian at Best/Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit
Twin Peaks - In the Morning (In the Evening)/B-side
Ty Segall - Drug Mugger/Mr. Face
Au.Ra - Pyramid/Jane's Lament
Strange Wilds - Standing/Standing
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - I'm In Your Mind/I'm In Your Mind Fuzz
Jonny Polonsky - Love Lovely Love/Hi My Name is Jonny
Boss Hog - Winn Coma/Boss Hog
Dandelion - Weird-Out/Dyslexicon
Nirvana - Aero Zeppelin/Incesticide
Pocketwatch - Throwing Needles/Late!
McLusky - Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues/McLusky Do Dallas
Neil Young - F***in' Up/Ragged Glory
Pere Ubu - Street Waves/The Modern Dance
The Dils - Class War/Dils Dils Dils
Minutemen - Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing/Double Nickels on the Dime
Big Boys - Funk Off/The Fat Elvis
The Gun Club - Sex Beat/Fire of Love

Hour 2: Team-ups
Hindu Love Gods - Raspberry Beret/Hindu Love Gods
Fred Schneider - Secret Sharer/Just Fred
J. Mascis and the Fog - Back Before You Go/More Light
Phantom Tollbooth - Mascara Snakes/Beard of Lightning
The Both - Pay For It/The Both
David Byrne and Brian Eno - Life is Long/Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan - Fight Fire With Fire/Sunday at Devil Dirt
Desert Sessions - Crawl Home/The Desert Sessions Vol. 9 and 10
Buffalo Tom and Grant Hart - Never Talking to You Again/Live at the Cabaret Metro July 2000
Carbon/Silicon - Make It Alright/The Carbon Bubble
Mike Watt - Against the '70s/Ball-Hog or Tugboat?
The Gutter Twins - Idle Hands/Saturnalia
Consonant - Post-Pathetic/Consonant
The Monkeywrench - Low on Air/Gabriel's Horn
Reeves Gabrels - You've Been Around/The Sacred Squall of Now

Trust Fund Challenge #9: "Supertrain" (1979)

In this mega-sized installment of Trust Fund Challenge, Ric and I are confronted with the shiny spectacle that was the 1979 NBC megaflop Supertrain. The network invested a lot of resources on this "Love Boat on the rails" show, and it failed miserably. We have a lot of fun trying to figure out why this happened and who thought it would be a good idea to feature the acting stylings of one Steve Lawrence in the pilot.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Completely Conspicuous 363: Online Immortality

Part 3 of my conversation with guest Matt Phillion as we discuss friendship in the digital age. Listen to the episode below or download directly (right click and "save as").

Show notes:
- Check out Matt's new book, The Indestructibles: Breakout
- Matt: I will sell out tomorrow
- Matt founded Home For Wayward Geeks to rant about superheroes
- A lack of institutional rock knowledge
- Sitting next to Jordan Knight on a plane
- Friends who overshare online about kids, pets, butts
- Matt: I miss hanging out with friends
- It's work to get people together
- Two levels of interaction
- Social media ghosts
- Online relationships can be as real as physical ones for some
- You'll exist online long after your death
- The Digital Cleaner

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blog Clicky Clicky. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Stuck In Thee Garage #68: February 6, 2015

Nothing livens up the humdrum everyday existence of a region like a sports championship. This week, New England has been trying to forget the seemingly endless onslaught of snow by celebrating the New England Patriots' Super Bowl victory. In hour 2 of Stuck In Thee Garage this week, I played songs to celebrate a championship. The Pats' win over Seattle may not be as big as defeating communism, but it's pretty damn great.

Yo Adrian, here's the playlist:

Hour 1
Artist -  Song/Album
Radical Dads - Don't Go/Universal Coolers
Colleen Green - TV/I Want to Grow Up
Wimps - Couches/Couches EP
Viet Cong - Bunker Buster/Viet Cong
Longings - Put to Death/Demo
Meat Wave - Panopticon/Meat Wave
Leggy - Sweet Teeth/Cavity Castle
Grinderman - Get It On/Grinderman
Marnie Stern - Roads? Where We're Going We Don't Need Roads/This Is It and I Am It and...
The Nation of Ulysses - S.S. Exploder/Plays Pretty for Baby
Them Crooked Vultures - Elephants/Them Crooked Vultures
The Jam - Art School/In the City
R.E.M. - Star 69/Monster
No Age - Glitter/Everything in Between
The Stooges - Fun House/Fun House

Hour 2: Champions
Sleater-Kinney - The Drama You've Been Craving/Dig Me Out
The Walkmen - Victory/Lisbon
Sebadoh - State of Mine/Defend Yourself
The New Pornographers - Champions of Red Wine/Brill Bruisers
Devo - Triumph of the Will/Duty Now for the Future
Motorhead - Live to Win/Ace of Spades
The Pink Mountaintops - Bad Boogie Ballin'/The Pink Mountaintops
The Replacements - You Lose/Hootenanny
Husker Du - Games/Flip Your Wig
Deluxx Folk Implosion - U Can't Win/Safe and Sound
Petty Morals - Just a Game/Keep Safe Boston 2014 for Planned Parenthood
The Hush Now - Parade/Sparkle Drive
D Generation - Waiting for the Next Big Parade/No Lunch
Led Zeppelin - Celebration Day/Led Zeppelin III
Les Savy Fav - Excess Energies/Root for Ruin
Rocket from the Crypt - Middle/Scream Dracula Scream
The Waldos - Party Lights/Rent Party
Ween - Your Party/La Cucaracha
The Rolling Stones - Rip This Joint/Exile on Main St.
Black Flag - Louie Louie/The First Four Years

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Completely Conspicuous 362: Friendly Fire

Part 2 of my conversation with guest Matt Phillion as we discuss friendship in the digital age. Listen to the episode below or download directly (right click and "save as").

Show notes:
- Check out Matt's new book, The Indestructibles: Breakout
- Matt stopped working in offices several years ago
- Used to being alone all day
- Going out with friends tends to slow down as you settle down
- Less likely to make the effort to organize group outings
- House parties can be fun
- Young people like Tinder
- Matt used OK Cupid
- Photos can be deceiving
- Blind dates can be rough
- When older parents start texting
- Mom Guilt never ends
- Matt came back to the U.S. because of family
- Jay was ready to move far away after college...and didn't
- Matt: Watching Dancing With the Stars is a family tradition
- "The Fighter" was like "National Geographic: Boston"
- To be continued

Colleen Green - TV
Radical Dads - Don't Go
Boom Said Thunder - Summer Twin

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The Colleen Green song is on the album I Want to Grow Up on Hardly Art. Download the song for free at Soundcloud.

The Radical Dads song is on the album Universal Coolers on Old Flame Records. Download the song for free at Soundcloud.
The Boom Said Thunder song is on the EP Summer Twin, which is available for free download at Bandcamp.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blog Clicky Clicky. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.