Archive for the Lists Category

Best Bands Worst Songs the Turd

Posted in Lists with tags , , , , , on June 12, 2014 by Lightning Slim

In which Fear Factory cover a pop song (OK) and then write a pop song (Definitely Not OK).

Fear_Factory_-_Transgression When a band puts out two albums in a year, you know that one of two things is happening: either they are filled to the brim with creativity or there’s some kind of record label shenanigans happening. So when Fear Factory followed up the April 2004 release of well-received return-to-form record Archetype with the August 2005 underwhelm of Transgression, a collection of lesser songs, experiments and covers united by a regrettable use of the much-maligned plinky snare drum sound from St. Anger, well, most fans quickly made up their minds what was happening there.

It’s not a completely hateable record, despite obviously being recorded without a single band member in the same room at the same time. One of the bright spots is a faithful cover of U2’s “I Will Follow”, which has some pep to it. The other cover (Killing Joke’s “Millennium”) is a bit too on the nose and leaves me cold. But things really go off the rails when the band decides to get their inner U2 on using their own material, and that’s where “Supernova” comes in.

The song jingles its way into your ears like the radio-ready single from a mid-90’s Rush album, which as I type it looks like a grave insult to Rush. Burton Bell’s vocal is something which would have been better kept on one of  his folk-ambient side projects. Dig those crazy whisper-echoes! And let’s be clear about something; this track wasn’t hidden in a corner. It is the official single of a heavy metal album.

 

 

Don’t that just make you want to slap some cat ears on it and call it Hello Shitty?

Happily, FF have gone on to bigger and better things, so their legacy is safe for now. Imagine this was the last thing they ever did?

Questions? Kudos? Hate something off Digimortal more (and who would blame you?) Hit the comments below!

Best Bands Worst Songs Part Duh

Posted in Lists with tags , , , , , on June 6, 2014 by Lightning Slim

Last week I took on the project of Iron Maiden’s very worst, which got me some feedback about picking on poor Blaze Bayley, as if he were a defenseless child and not a grown-ass man of somewhat dubious singing ability. However, if we accept the premise that Blaze Maiden is a completely different animal from Bruce Dickinson’s version, that means I can take another kick at the can and give you some runner-ups. Here are two; one of Bruce’s worst vocal performances and the other a plain old stupid and unworthy song. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they’re both from Fear of the Dark, Maiden’s weakest Bruce effort unless you’re a South American fan who likes to gather in the thousands and sing along to the guitar parts.

First Runner-Up: Charlotte the Harlot must have been really good, because Steve Harris is writing songs about her 20 years later. Bad songs. I vacillated between this one and “Bring Your Daughter…To the Slaughter”, and then just flipped a coin.

 

Second Runner-Up: I’m surprised this is a Harris/Gers effort, as it sounds like it would fit comfortably on a Dickinson solo record like Balls to Picasso. I almost wish it was, because then it could be safely ignored with the rest of that crapstick.* Guys, I know you like football, and this is obliquely about football hooliganism, but guys, boring.

 

Note: I won’t be heckling anything from the Paul Di’anno records, for two reasons. A) I don’t consider juvenilia to be fair game. It’s way more fun to poke holes in folks who know better and B) Those two records are balls-out fun and full of life. Very little badness, if any.

Special Honourable Mention: The cover of Dance of Death. Go on, Google it. I’m not depicting it here because it gives me a feeling like I need to pee. Only instead of urine it’s hate.

 

 

*Balls To Picasso is essentially a 30-minute trailer for a movie you don’t want to see, before it finally and mercifully pays off in “Tears of the Dragon”, a great song by anyone’s standards. But what a wait!

Best Bands, Worst Songs

Posted in Lists with tags , , , , , on May 29, 2014 by Lightning Slim

Even titans of the genre write crappy songs sometimes. If a band is particularly prolific, they might write a bunch of them, which end up acting like a shit-cocoon around the beauties they hide. What I’d like to explore  here are some of the biggest, best and most well-regarded bands’ very worst efforts. Let’s start with my favourite band: Iron Maiden.

I bet you just started humming “Run to the Hills” or “The Trooper” in your head. You most certainly didn’t break into a rendition of impossibly-long shitpile “The Angel and the Gambler”.

Now I know you’re thinking this is low hanging fruit because it’s from the inter-Bruce period, with Blaze Bayley on vocals. But he’s not the worst thing about “The Angel and the Gambler”. Sure, his two albums were a low point in Maiden history, but I think he got some stuff right on occasion despite a certain amount of tone-deafness (a curious condition for someone hired to be the singer of the world’s biggest metal band, but hey whatever). Blaze does inject an epic, tragic feel to “Sign of the Cross”, some manic energy to “Man on the Edge” and even rocks out a bit on “Futureal”.

This is none of those songs.

Take a peek, but don’t hit play just yet:

Firstly, the time listed is not a mistake. And there is not an interview attached or a cinematic component. The song is ten minutes long. You think “Oh, OK, it’s a big epic song about a sci-fi novel or a famous battle. Maiden does that. No big deal”.

Nope. It’s about a gambler, and the angel who tries to save his soul by having an excruciatingly dull conversation with him. It’s kind of a bluesy, boogie-rock thing with super-obvious keyboards playing a single-note back rhythm (like “Die, Die My Darling” only not funny). And the chorus is one line repeated over and over again, which, in a song of this size, is a lot. I’d say Nicko was phoning in the drum performance, but with no fills whatsoever it’s hard to tell if it’s even him at all. Steve Harris played the keys on this; maybe he just played everything. The real tragedy of the Blaze albums isn’t Blaze, it’s that without the Smith-Dickinson songs to liven up the place, the Harris epics just give way to more Harris epics. It’s bloat.

And it’s not even metal bloat.

Now give the song a play, and feel free to post how long you made it through before switching it off in the comments below. Opinions? Brickbats? Hate “Dream of Mirrors” more? Put that down there too!

Derby Things I Will Miss When They’re Gone: Part 5

Posted in Lists, Roller Derby with tags , on May 29, 2013 by Lightning Slim

Derby is changing every day, inching along a continuum that leads from burlesque to mainstream sporting endeavour. It’s where the sport seems to be pulling itself due to (and in spite of) a great deal of debate, so I’m fine with the march toward legitimacy. I will however, mourn the passing of some of the following reminders of the game’s past. They are things that still exist in roller derby, but are under fire, in flux or otherwise doomed to be ground under the wheels of history.

Chapter 1 – Nameyology

Chapter 2 – Booty Short, Legacy Long

Chapter 3 – Billboarded

Chapter 4 – Dude, Skate Like a Lady

Chapter 5: The Party

So you had a bout! It was a close game, everyone is super-stoked and the announcer has told the crowd where to join you at a local watering hole for The Big Afterparty. Your fans will get to see their favourite players, chat about the game and dance the night away. Harmless fun, right?

You know what else your fans might do?

They might see your star player break a finger in a pile-up caused by drunken pyramid formation.

They might overhear one of your fresh meat in a screaming tirade directed at a table of chagrined-looking referees.

They might see your announcer some guy making a fool of himself trying to tell Kamikaze Kitten how cool she is, because she DOES NOT KNOW how cool she is and needs to know. So cool. *

You get the picture. They might witness (or participate in) a variety of alcohol, fatigue and nudity-related events which will serve to take a bit of the shine off the athlete/spectator dynamic.  One thing they might not see, behind closed doors, is the manager of the party venue deciding that there’s not a lot of money to be made from derby events, because the fans are already liquored from the arena, and the skaters are starving and more interested in cheap pad thai than cocktails. The exceptions to this are more likely to cause the situations described above.

But Slim, you say, what about the unique close relationship derby has with its fans? How could we possibly give that up? I can tell you that I have very close personal relationships with both Metal music and hockey. They mean the world to me, and I think it shines out of every pore of my being. And yet, somehow, the last time I got an autograph from Doug Gilmour or Rob Zombie, both of them neglected to mention exactly where I could join them for a few pints.

But I wanted to discuss your film career!

But I wanted to discuss your film career!

The fact that I do not have easy access to these stars does nothing to hurt my enthusiasm for their products and activities. It may even help. And I am certain they are still out there partying after a gig, but they surely do not need me there to peek behind the curtain and feed any sort of burgeoning stalker tendencies. Hands up, skaters: has a creep approached you after a bout at the party venue? Yeah.

Derby’s got a ton of fan-interactivity going for it. Let’s keep the cool, uplifting parts and not the sloppy-ass ones. Keep suicide seats and high-five lines (just not for me. I have to be impartial. Also: germs). Keep autograph sessions and wheel tosses and t-shirt cannons. In fact, keep the afterparty. Use it to celebrate your teammates, your opponents, your volunteers and the spirit of the game. Have it somewhere where the regulars don’t know you, because that way if they do see some shenanigans they might come check out a bout.

Not saying wrong. Just saying time and place.

Not saying wrong. Just saying time and place.

But as for the fans, leave them with a little mystery intact to whet the appetite. We need them to know that, heck yes, derby’s a party, to see and experience at trackside. Because what they see at your bout is what they will come to expect, and if they see Jamz the Great and Powerful off her face and vomiting in an alley, maybe they will come to expect that as part of their derby experience too.

My Unwanted Advice: You Gotta Keep ’em Separated.

Any kudos, h8red or other commentary would be welcome in the comments section.

*Examples entirely fictional as near as I can recall.

Derby Things I Will Miss When They’re Gone: Part 4

Posted in Lists, Roller Derby with tags , , , on May 14, 2013 by Lightning Slim

Derby is changing every day, inching along a continuum that leads from burlesque to mainstream sporting endeavour. It’s where the sport seems to be pulling itself due to (and in spite of) a great deal of debate, so I’m fine with the march toward legitimacy. I will however, mourn the passing of some of the following reminders of the game’s past. They are things that still exist in roller derby, but are under fire, in flux or otherwise doomed to be ground under the wheels of history.

Chapter 1 – Nameyology

Chapter 2 – Booty Short, Legacy Long

Chapter 3 – Billboarded

Chapter 4: No Boys Allowed

This post is a confession, and an apology. And possibly a challenge.

In my time, I’ve been a Men’s Roller Derby hater. I’m working to correct it.

I believe that the sport of women’s flat track roller derby provides a necessary corrective to male-dominated sports culture, and a unique opportunity for women to explore team sport, physical fitness and camaraderie outside the paradigms of conventional athletics. I also believe the necessity for that unique corrective measure is still very much with us. I know, Mr. Seltzer, old-school derby was always presented co-ed, but the revivalists dumped a lot of stuff, including fakeness, and they did so by design.

That being said, merby’s here and it isn’t going anywhere. More and more men are playing, usually with the support of their sister leagues. One day, assisted by genetics and centuries of warrior ethos, some dude will set a record on the flat track in scoring/jumping/protein shake drinking that some very competitive women will spend a long time trying to match. And that will bum me out.  Is men’s derby an amazing sport played by passionate athletes? Hell yeah! Is its growth, right here and now, perhaps weighing heavily on the coat tails of a small but important aspect of the women’s movement?

My answer to that used to be yes, without question. Now I’m coming round to realize that it could be a problem, but it doesn’t have to be, so I can’t judge it until it happens.

I know a lot of male players. These are people who have shed blood, sweat and tears building the women’s game and have spent so much time with it they have come to love it, and want to experience it for themselves. They tell me that they can think of no higher compliment for the game they love than to put themselves to the test in its crucible. I have no counter-argument for this. I can’t tell them to get back in their Widow/Ref-kitchen and make us a rule-set sandwich (hold the Minors). They should play and they shall.

And yet I remember the first time I saw a group of parents, children and athletes gathering together for an autograph signing after a bout. Everyone within 20 feet was a female. I thought “You don’t see that every day.”

And then I thought “Well shit, you should!”

So, do I still hate the Bro-ller Derby? Can you love the player and not the game? All the songs suggest you can, but I know it’s not that simple.

My gravest concern remains, which is that the men’s game will draw the public’s eye and we’ll end up in a situation where the male game is the default and the female is the alt-version. You know, LIKE EVERY OTHER SPORT IN HISTORY. I’m going to sound like a pompous ass when I say this, but I can’t think of any other way: Men, you have been given partial custody of something women hold precious. Don’t screw it up.

That’s the main thing. There are other nitpicks too:

I’m still inclined to cringe when I’m at a tournament and I am told that Team X’s star player cannot participate because she was taken out in a co-ed scrimmage, likely by what Captain Lou El Bammo calls the “Dude Major Penalty”.*

At the moment, I still think the guys took a game that was just finding its feet in terms of complex strategy and put the hamfist right back into it.

I think I will always hate the uniforms.

But I love Roller Derby. I love the game, and I love the people. All the people: Refs and NSOs and announcers, volunteers and fans. I love roller girls and roller boys, who I guess I should just call “skaters” henceforth.

Mea Culpa. I’m working on it. Work with me.

Levity!

Levity!

*Simultaneous High/Back Block with Forearms. Guy Jammers new to the game do not check speed when approaching walls.

Comments? Hit the form below! Just don’t tell MRDA where to find me.

Next time: Andrew WK Does Not Approve.

Derby Things I Will Miss When They’re Gone: Part 3

Posted in Lists, Roller Derby with tags , , on May 11, 2013 by Lightning Slim

Derby is changing every day, inching along a continuum that leads from burlesque to mainstream sporting endeavour. It’s where the sport seems to be pulling itself due to (and in spite of) a great deal of debate, so I’m fine with the march toward legitimacy. I will however, mourn the passing of some of the following reminders of the game’s past. They are things that still exist in roller derby, but are under fire, in flux or otherwise doomed to be ground under the wheels of history.

Chapter 1 concentrated on derby names, and Chapter 2 was about uniforms and flair. This time let’s look at something outside the skaters…

Chapter 3: Posters

Photo by Sara Montgomery. Images found at Fracture Magazine

Poster by Sara Montgomery. Images found at Fracture Magazine

The Leafs don’t produce a poster for each game they play. Neither do the Knicks. Nor even does your local little league T-ball team.You don’t see the Boston Bruins advertising their next game with a marquee billboard of Zdeno Chara lasering a fighter jet from the sky with his eye-beams,* and I’m pretty sure the next Monday Night Football will not be billed as a Hallowe’en/Wild West/Mardi Gras/Star Wars Showdown**.

And one day, derby will have evolved beyond the need for such things, and I will actually rejoice, because then we will have made it. Spectacle requires a poster. Sport does not. I will miss the rock and roll, Russ Meyer-inspired graphics, but in my perfect future, the evolution progresses thusly:

2009: “Hey, check out that poster. We should go to that.”

2014: “When’s the next roller derby?”

2020: “Check the sports feed to see who Gotham is playing this week”.

The loss of the need for this talent would be an excellent problem to have, derby-wise. The poster designers could apply their genius to merchandise and t-shirts. In my perfect future I would have homes for many of them at my wildly successful clothing line Burns and Buckle.

qcc2012_poster_final

Poster by Adam Swinbourne, Future VP Creative of Burns and Buckle

Right now, derby is (of necessity) selling the sizzle and not the steak. However, slowly but surely, we’re teaching the fans what a good steak tastes like. All we have to do is keep the steakhouse standing long enough for the glorious day when Ma and Pa Derby, all on their own, have a hankering.

My Unwanted Advice: Keep Derbying On. This is going to be an awesome problem to have one day. Hang on to those soon-to-be-vintage posters, and check out the awesome repository of graphics over at Fracture Magazine.

Lovers? Haters? Venture capital for my non-existent business? Hit the comments below!

*Any Photoshoppers out there willing to do this for me? Because it’s the best idea I’ve had in ages.

**Never do a Circus theme. People see you on the way to the afterparty and yell “Juggalo!”

Next Time: They’re gonna MRDA me.

Derby Things I Will Miss When They’re Gone: Part 2

Posted in Lists, Roller Derby on May 4, 2013 by Lightning Slim

Derby is changing every day, inching along a continuum that leads from burlesque to mainstream sporting endeavour. It’s where the sport seems to be pulling itself due to (and in spite of) a great deal of debate, so I’m fine with the march toward legitimacy. I will however, mourn the passing of some of the following reminders of the game’s past. They are things that still exist in roller derby, but are under fire, in flux or otherwise doomed to be ground under the wheels of history. Part 1 of the story, along with various disclaimers, can be found here.

Chapter 2: Fishnets

Well, not specifically fishnets, but what we’ll call Skater Determined Uniform pieces. The traditional, lingerie-inspired looks are giving way to purely athletic gear. Once again, I am fine with this from a sport-growth perspective, but I think that when the day comes that all skaters look professional, dri-fit and, well, uniform we may have lost something. I’m not talking about sex.* A skater has no responsibility to dress sexy according to my standards, but, as the sport stands today, neither is it her job to dress according to someone else’s notion of what an athlete should be.

this-is-roller-derby-cinema-poster

…Or Is It?

I’m sure you’ve seen some of the flame wars. Modern Derby is the first sport to grow up entirely inside the internet, and that has influenced the level of discourse surrounding it. “You got Jocks in my subculture!” “You got Hipsters in my sport!” I think the blending of these ingredients, like peanut butter cups, has been as delicious as it is surprising. But that blend is also contentious and uniforms are just another battleground in the Derby Culture War currently underway.

There is a gap in perception between how derby players actually dress and the more traditional images being used to market the sport. I don’t actually know too many people who dress like the girl in the poster above. But the posters persist. Personally, I don’t think this is necessarily bad for business. We know that we’ll all be driving Chevy Volts eventually, but that hasn’t stopped GM from sticking the Camaro front and centre in the marketing materials.

I’m sure in time all will be well, and consensus will eventually be reached (or not, whatever we pick looks bad on at least one body type). I just hope this process is left up to evolution and not done by fiat. Nowadays whenever I see a Fresh Meat Tutu I hope that she’s given the chance to grow out of it herself without a) somebody on the internet telling her she’s Dragging Down The Sport or, more horribly, b) being given the gears by her own teammates, something that would be called “hazing” in traditional sporting context. Ain’t nobody joining derby for that.

My Unwanted Advice: For your charter team, get the jumpers on if it makes you feel profesh. Make sure you still allow some of your fan favourites to show some flair.** For home teams and rec leagues, establish some guidelines for colour and then go to town.

tumblr_lj32dwTmb71qzo2t9o1_500

*WTF. I know.

**Black-Eyed Skeez’s Darth Vader Helmet is the perfect example of where functionality, uniqueness and sheer terror intersect.

Questions? Concerns? Outrage? Please feel free to hit the Comments section.

Next time: The Marquee d’Obsolescence

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