Weezerin seitsemäs studioalbumi Raditude julkaistiin hieman vajaat seitsemän vuotta sitten, tarkalleen 30.10.2009. En muista mistä albumi omaan kuunteluun päätyi, olisiko ollut jostain lehti-ilmoituksesta, mutta siitä on muodostunut yksi keskeisimmistä ”mielentilalevyistä”: silloin kun syksy alkaa pimentyä, tulee RDtitude kaivaa esiin.
Aikalaisarvioissa tai sittemminkin kuulluissa lausunnoissa levyä ei pidetä klassikkona. Muistan lukeneeni useammankin 2/5 tähden arvostelun ja totuus lienee, että noihin aikoihin yhtye sekä nokkahahmonsa Rivers Cuomo olivat lähellä uransa pahinta aallonpohjaa, josta nousu käynnistyi puolenkymmentä vuotta myöhemmin vuonna 2014 julkaistulla Everything Will Be Alright in the End-julkaisulla.
Itselleni Ratitude kuitenkin iskee, ja aika lujaa, silloin kun edellämainittu syyspimeys tuntuu iskevän päälle. Bändin autotallihenkisyys, tarvittaessa hyvinkin rujo soitanta sekä Cuomon omaperäinen, varmasti monia ärsyttäväkin lauluääni vyöryvät läpi harmaimmastakin massasta, ottavat harteilleen ja hetken aikaa mukana kulkemalla saattelevat eteenpäin.
Myönnän, ettei kyseessä ole maailman vahvin levykokonaisuus, mutta oikeastaan ainoastaan Love is the Answer jää biisinä selvästi muusta kattauksesta jälkeen. Sen sijaan seasta löytyy kolme biisiä, jotka olen nostanut Spotifyn omalle Playlist-soittolistalleni, jossa ovat ns. ”parhaat biisit”.
Ensimmäisenä heti albumin avaava, mahtavalla nimellä varustettu (If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To. Biisi oli jonkin asteinen hitti sekä malliesimerkki Rivers Cuomon huumorintajusta tekstittäjänä ja popbiisin kirjoittajana. Boy meets a girl ja sitä rataa: Slayer-T-paita, Titanic, uima-altaat ja jopa ruokahetki tytön vanhempien luona romantisoidaan tavalla, johon vain Cuomo pystyy. ”The rest of the summer was the best we ever had / we watched Titanic and it didn’t make us sad”, silloin menee jo aika hyvin.
Seuraava nosto on raita numero viisi: Put Me Back Together. Edellisen ja tämän välissäkin on toimivaa räiskimistä, mutta tämän biisin myötä levy hieman rauhoittuu. Jostain syystä tällä levyllä Cuomon rauhallisemmin rakentuvat kappaleet vakuuttavat, johtuneekohan biisijärjestyksestä. Ei tarjoa ihmeitä, mutta omissa korvissani kasvaa dramaattiseksi Weezerin tyyliin.
Levyn päättävä I Don’t Want to Let You Go jatkaa hieman samalla linjalla. Kuullaan pelkistetty tausta ja niin monesta yhteydestä tuttu sointumalli, mutta jos tällainen biisi kirjoitetaan niin se kuuluu säestää näin. Allekirjoittaneen listoille sillä ainakin pääsee joka kerta. Cuomo päästää jälleen kuulijan lähemmäs kuin monilla muilla tuotoksillaan, tai ainakin luo sellaisen vaikutelman. Tämä on kaunis päätös albumille. Sohjoinen ja lumisateinen marraskuinen ilta ja levy kuunneltuna pihalla sään armoilla tulevat tästä mieleen.
Tällaisena pehmeänä laskeutumisena tähän väliin siis Weezerin Ratitude: myös bändin debyytti (ns. ”sininen albumi” (1994)) sekä tekstissä mainittu Everything Will Be Alright in the End (2014) kannattaa kuunnella: itselle ne edustavat genressään merkkilevyjä. Lisäksi Rivers Cuomon sosiaalisen median kanavat ovat hulppeaa viihdettä!
Näin pistettiin Aikakone jälleen käyntiin. Kunhan saadaan ylläpito parempaan kuosiin, niin palataan asiaan.
The first Bon Jovi-release after the depart of Richie Sambora was released on August 21th. My personal feelings were quite mingled with fear because Sambora has been one of my personal favourites and idols and his talent not only as a guitarist but as a songwriter can’t be denied.
How would Bon Jovi manage to continue without a member whose been in the band since the beginning and would the album continue to sound numb like it’s predecessor What About Now (2013). It has been reported that Burning Bridges isn’t a proper studio album but more of a handshake for fans with an actual album to follow in 2016. The title, Burning Bridges, can be taken as a reference towards Sambora or as twitting towards the record company: Bon Jovi is known to have been releasing stuff just to fulfill their contracts…
From these premises the default value for the album was pretty much zero, when the opening track A Teardrop to the Sea started to play. What’s this for an opening song? There’s no sign of the radio hit potential and fundamental medium rock and the song feels more darker and almost mystical. There’s familiar tones coming through, however, from the band’s playing and Jon Bon Jovi’s grown up voice. The lyrics also have some nice phrases for example right in the beginning, when Jon sings ”So this is it / here it is / a pot of gold / a Judas kiss”. The song keeps on going in an abstemious feeling and the band isn’t let loose.
We Don’t Run kicks the engine running with it’s almost anthem-like go. It’s modern Bon Jovi which also rocks nicely! In this song the album’s title is also mentioned for the first time when Jon sings ”I’m not afraid of burning bridges / ’cause I know they’re gonna light my way”. This might be a reference towards Sambora… Nice pounding and especially the chorus is sang in such attitude that it might even get to played in sports events.
The third track was released as a ”single” before the album: Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning. At first this seemed like so basic Bon Jovi that it almost made me puke. The chord progression is traditional still, but then I listened to this a couple of times and wrote the lyrics on paper. The text showed up to be a return to similar kind of scenery from the band’s hit records from the 80s with their high school romances. On the previous albums Bon Jovi’s rock songs have been left to their starting blocks in some way but this has something more appealing. Maybe it’s in the melody, maybe it’s in the story. ”You’re shoes and attitude were stacked way up high” for example is a cool line in it’s corniness. There’s also many other very bonjovi-like phrases like ”when you’re driving down a street that’s only going one way / when every day starts feeling like a month of Mondays”. The song seems like a radio hit but it’s outro could have been longer in my opinion. Maybe when this gets to played live then… There’s one thing that bothers me a lot about SNGMSM: in the c-section the point of view changes irritatingly from third person to first at the middle of scene.
It’s likely that We Fall Down comes from the preceding album What About Now, because it doesn’t startle yours truly. It’s packed with too flamboyant production and feels lame… And the melody sounds like recycling of WAN:s title song.
Blind Love improves a bit but it doesn’t get the train going either. The mood is more succesful but Jon Bon Jovi’s current singing isn’t capable of carrying a song’s bottom as minimalistic as this like it did before. This kind of ballad can be found from every Bon Jovi album and this isn’t the worst of them, however.
After two weaker tracks the record, a bit suprisingly, starts to ameliorate with Who Would You Die For. This and the starting song of the album have some These Days (1995)-like feeling with their gloom. Jon’s vocal performance is one of the bests not only on this album but from the last decade. ”Was it the way your fingers held that glass / the way your lips broke when you laughed”. There wasn’t many better texts on the previous album.
In general the album’s use of instruments and the sounds start to go in the right direction here. A guitar solo is heard and there’s more space in the band’s playing more than on their last few records. Especially the first-mentioned was a perplexing notice when you remember that Sambora isn’t playing at all…
Fingerprints is played in a time signature of 6/8, which hasn’t been heard in quite a while from Bon Jovi (but on These Days it was used on several songs…). This is a very jovi-like love song in which the narrator remembers how all didn’t go as planned.
The more acoustic arrangement and melody are quite pretty but the line ”the last time that I saw them / I haven’t seen them since” is so horrible that it surprises me how it made it way to the album.
The song is one of the best on the album, however. Especially its outro-solo which is played by John Shanks, who also takes care of most of the electric guitar work on the album. This is also the longest song on the album with it’s duration of a few seconds short of six minutes.
The third to last (eighth) song is Life is Beautiful. It’s the third on the album to start with whoa-whoa-lilting… This feels also like a surplus from What About Now, and remains pale like that album. Bon Jovi could do albums full of songs like this three times a year.
The rank outsider of the tail end of the album is I’m Your Man. From the teasers released before the album this didn’t sparkle anything in me, but in it’s simplicity and almost rollingstones-like guitars this rocks in a different way than anything Bon Jovi has released in a long, long time. Lasting nearly four minutes IYM offers something from the old Bon Jovi. The outro is being played a few measures longer than they have been used to play on the 2000s. From a lyrical point of view IYM offers same kind of romanticity like Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning:
When your heart is hungry
When you want a secret you can keep
You know that you can call me
Anytime for anything you need
No one asking questions
No need for alibis
No need for wasting words
I’m who I am
I’m your man
The album ends with it’s title track Burning Bridges, which works as an outright middle finger towards the band’s record company: the album has been mentioned to work as a fulfillment of a contract. Mercury Records has been behind Bon Jovi since the beginning of their career and after 32 years their cooperation ending with conflicts didn’t please Jon Bon Jovi at all. This song tells that story as whole from the band’s point of view.
Adios, auf wiedersehen, farewell,
Adieu, good night, guten abend,
Here’s one last song you can sell
Let’s call it burning bridges
It’s a sing along as well
Ciao, adieu, good nacht, guten abend
Play it for your friends in hell
The sum of summarum: from it’s starting points this is a good Bon Jovi-album. Shanks stands in for Sambora nicely but a certain luster is lost with Richie. The darker tones and modern sounds are a big improvement from the last few albums.
Tom Petty and Heartbreakers’ new album Hypnotic Eye has been praised in many occasions and I have been thinking about buying it while browsing through record shelves. However, I just came to listen to it last week: I’m glad I finally did. The album’s full of great rock music played by a real Band. It also has powerful songs written by the man himself, mr. Tom Petty. The veterans show that it doesn’t take wonders to make great music.
Hypnotic Eye starts with the song American Plan B. It has got ragged riffing, fuzzy guitar and the familiar, creaky way of singing. ”I’m gonna make my way through this world someday / I don’t care what nobody say”. When the song gets to it’s chorus the atmosphere opens up and the band’s playing has got air. The guitar fill in the chorus is touchingly leaning forward, it definitely hasn’t been placed in perfect timing with Pro Tools. This song can be taken’ as kind of a sequel to the 1977 classic song American Girl.
Fault Lines starts interestingly with Mike Campbell’s guitar, there’s even wah-wah there somewhere. The ambience is melancholic and wistful, Petty’s sound fits this life experience demanding text great.
”And I’ve got a few of my own
I’ve got a few of my own fault lines
Running under my life”
The interlude with fuzz guitar and harmonica is pretty catchy and works well.
Red River is a great song. The vocal melody and the guitar line going underneath are supplementing each other nicely. Meanwhile there’s an electric guitar being played above the landscape, painting tones with simple chords.
This one also has upstanding chorus and the feel opens up before closing in on the following verse.
”So meet me tonight by the Red River
Where the water is clear and cold
Meet me tonight by the Red River
And look down into your soul
Look down into your soul”
The bridge and guitar solo feel like coming from a different song. The solo has got a nice acoustic guitar sound until the band jumps in and the guitar solo changes to an electric one.
It’s a great song with the sections supporting each other. One of the best pieces on the album.
The fourth track, Full Grown Boy, is almost jazz. Petty and the band show how they’re capable of swinging from one feel to another. The band plays barely and intimately while Petty joins with style.
The line ”full grown boy” is an interesting one and it’s amazingly apt. There’s something magical and beautiful in the atmosphere, it makes my spine tingle…
”Can you see her in the fire light
Hear how soft and low she sings
How’m I gonna tell her that I love her
When words don’t mean a thing
And I’m a full grown boy”
Immediately after the dusky ambience the album gets back to rocking with All You Can Carry. Because the record popped in different sound, now this rock-band sound feels to work even better.
In the verses there’s some similarity to Red River, but this one’s chorus is more simple, almost lingering. The past is left behind and all that’s taken along and remembered are the things needed. Petty’s sound grinded by rock miles gives this song a great tinge.
”There’s something moving in the dark outside
I gotta face it when it hits the light
No one can say I didn’t have your side
No one can say I left without a fight”
Power Drunk is somehow a neutral song. ”Can you see me against the sun? / crying out to reach someone”. Nice riffing flavoured with fuzz. The clean sound of the guitar is also pleasant. This kind of ”lazy” american rock isn’t exactly my cup of tea…
Forgotten Man continues the album with more rocking feel, starting with an overdriven guitar played through a tremelo effect. The band plays great once again! And the term ”forgotten man”, while sung by Petty, sounds pretty credible. This song doesn’t straggle, it just keeps on rocking straight forward.
The next song coming is one that rose as one of the album’s jewels right from the first listens: Sins of My Youth. There’s an almost Agents-like hazy feel and sound in the song, that’s clearly the most beautiful one on the album.
”When the past gets up in your face
Memories slide out of place
All those things that were hidden away
Ain’t so bad in the light of day
Let me tell you the truth
I love you more
Than the sins of my youth”
Here’s a song that’s got nothing too much. Sins of My Youth goes to my soul every single time. If somebody sings a line ”I love you more / than the sins of my youth”, it means he’s talking about pretty powerful feelings. Damn, what a beautiful song.
U Get Me High. The guitar sounds differ from the previous songs, it’s more overdrive than fuzz. The bass guitar sounds more prominent also. This song is just a little ”too slow”, it feels like it’s prances forward leaning backwards.
I guess this a love song in a manner of Tom Petty.
”You get me high
You get me high
You give me something so deep
You get me high”
In the outro the band plays greatly as one piece, the ending section could have been even longer!
Burnt Out Town is more bluesy material with it’s piano fills and harmonica. The theme of this song has been dealt with in many songs and especially by these veteran rockers. The youngsters don’t sing about these things this way too often. The harmonica played through a bullet-mic rocks!
There’s also a piano solo in this one: it means more blues. The song is carried by drums and bass and not guitar, like the rest on this album.
”Yeah, it’s a burnt out town
It’s going down but no one knows
Yeah, it’s a burnt out town
Ain’t dead but getting close”
Shadow People. Hypnotic Eye gets to it’s end with a great final track. I think the song’s ”shadow people” describe the people often referred to only as ”they”, who always do everything and often screw things up. They do this and they do that, but no one can name them. The song can also be taken in a way that everyone goes where they go and no one else can know it. ”Shadow people / in shadow land”.
”That one’s thinking of great art and eloquent words
That one’s strapped on a gun and joined up with the herd
That one’s saving up water, got some food stored away
For the war that is coming on the judgment day”
The chords and scenery of this song have some tone of wisdom in them. The keyboard pad and the guitar pattern bring some magic and mysticism. Especially the interlude that tinkles while the bass pumps a few selected notes has a great tension.
Shadow People’s lyrics have something to say against the U.S. like the opening song of the album.
”And this one carries a gun for the USA
He’s a 21st Century man
And he’s scary as hell cause when he’s afraid
He’ll destroy everything he don’t understand”
This one’s clearly the longest track on the album. Petty & the Heartbreakers isn’t best known about long songs otherwise. It has a long outro that hovers in the air and then tails off, until Petty steps forward with just an acoustic guitar. ”Waiting for the sun to be straight overhead / ‘Til we ain’t got no shadow at all”.
Hypnotic Eye wasn’t in the top positions for nothing when selecting the best rock records of 2014. The songs are strong not only independent but also as parts of the album. Especially the trio of Red River, Sins of My Youth and Shadow People are such songs that you hear these days way too rarely in a music world in which disposable material and radio hits weigh too much.
Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours had to be dealt with now. It came to my mind on last week’s friday after a conversation with Tomi and then I listened to it five times during three days.
The album is thirteenth on the list of most sold albums in the world and it was the only one in the lead positions I had no conception of. I found out that during the recording process Fleetwood Mac consisted of five members (3 men + 2 women) whose relationships with each other had been quite a mess.
The band was formed by drummer Mick Fleetwood and two couples: Lindsey Buckingham (guitar and vocals) + Stevie Nicks (vocals) and John McVie (bass) + Christine McVie (keyboards, vocals). When the band was starting the recording sessions the two couples broke up and Fleetwood found out that he’s wife had a relationship with his best friend.
The band then moved to the studio in Sausalito, California, where they plunged into a very excessive rock’n’roll-lifestyle, mostly because of cocaine. One of the owners of the studio the band used has said that The band would come in at 7 a night, have a big feast, party till 1 or 2 in the morning, and then when they were so whacked-out they couldn’t do anything, they’d start recording”.
The opening track Second Hand News offers almost countryish sounds. There’s a lot of backing vocals and the overall sound is mostly acoustic, but this is not the most traditional country rock. ”One thing I think you should know / I ain’t gonna miss you when you go”. That’s not the way they sing in songs normally! There’s an overdriven guitar popping in somewhere, but it’s only doing some fills. The meaning of ”second hand news” doesn’t need any explanations in this case, I think.
The second track, Dreams, has a different sound than it’s predecessor right from the beginning: like Second Hand News had been kind of a ”prologue”. This one is interpret by the song’s writer Stevie Nicks. There’s not a lot of instruments in the instrumentation as the rhythm section dominates with electric piano and electric guitar play small things. The whole song, but especially the chorus, has some bittersweetness: somebody is using someone just as a tool to achieve his/her personal goals.
Nicks’ singing is pretty. This has an interesting text as a whole. There was just the first few lines of the first verse and the whole chorus that got stuck in my mind during the first listens. The band sings beautifully in layers once again and the song ends in a sweet chord.
”Like a heartbeat drives you mad…
In the stillness of remembering what you had…
And what you lost…
And what you had…
And what you lost
Thunder only happens when it’s raining
Players only love you when they’re playing
Say… Women… they will come and they will go
When the rain washes you clean… you’ll know”
A fingerpicking guitar played by Lindsey Buckingham is what keeps Never Going Back Again going. Now when I listened to the album for the first time in a landscape of an early spring this song sounded just like it’s soundtrack. Fits perfectly the mood of cycling in the glow of a setting sun.
The lyrics are about the supposition that when a relationship breaks down and you go down, it just happens once. ”Been down one time / Been down two times / I’m never going back again”. This one has a plain arrangement topped by a nifty layer of acoustic guitars and backing vocals. The whole package lasts for only 2 minutes and 14 seconds.
Don’t Stop starts immediately with a different mood than the previous three songs. There’s something very 80s-like in this one although the album was indeed released in 1977. The composition and lyrics were written by keyboardist Christine McVie and the song is sang by McVie herself and Lindsey Buckingham.
The song goes on lighter than the previous ones with the theme ”no matter what happens you have to keep your head up and keep on going, because you can’t get yesterday back”. There’s the first proper electric guitar solo and the sound landscape is more electric also. The lyrics are based on the divorce of C. McVie and the basist J.McVie after an 8-year marriage.
During the first listens there was one song above all others: Go Your Own Way. After a little research I found out that it was released as the lead single of the album in January 1977. It’s a rocking song written and sang by L. Buckingham.
As a simple but perfectly working effect is one note that can be heard in the chorus (”you can go your own way / go your own wa-ay”) that is sang just a semitone lower than it would presumably go. The song is build around it’s chorus and the verses are played in a lower profile.
Behind the song are once again complex relationships and those in between Buckingham and Stevie Nicks in particular. There’s a great guitar solo to end the song played with a sound that’s 70s at it’s best. The outro sounds like it could be streched forver when played live.
Songbird, a piano ballad created by Christine McVie ends the LP’s A-side. McVie’s playing touch is soft and the singing is very pretty. The power of the singers in this band is great and it’s used style-conciously. McVie has said that the song is ”about nobody and everybody in the form of a little prayer”.
”And I wish you all the love in the world,
But most of all, I wish it from myself.
And the songbirds keep singing,
Like they know the score,
And I love you, I love you, I love you,
Like never before, like never before. ”
The Chain starts like a roots song and it takes a little while for the song to get on going. This one was created in the studio with the whole band taking part. During the last third there’s an acceleration of tempo that was created on the basis of a bass pattern by John McVie. During the 70s these kinds of band things were done differently than these days: you can create a great story and a whole set of different kinds of sections in just 4 and a half minutes.
The multiple backing vocals multiple the message of the chorus, like both sides of the couple were yelling the same thing.
And if you don’t love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you saying
You would never break the chain.
You Make Loving Fun is just like Bee Gees and disco music although the proper disco culture was just about to rise in the end of the decade. The instrumentation is led by Clavinet-keyboard played by the song’s main architect C. McVie. There’s an interesting melody in the chorus. In this song the guitar stays in a supporting part as the other instruments carry the song. ”I never did believe in miracles, / but I’ve a feeling it’s time to try”.
I Don’t Want to Know takes us back closer to the 70s soft rock. I haven’t got a grip of this song yet as the surrounding pieces are so strong. There’s the trademark layer of vocals right from the start here as well. The composition by Stevie Nicks remains somehow a little neutral and it nods occasionally even towards country rock. The handclaps heard are interestingly paced and the electric guitars come and play some fills occasionally.
The second-to-last song of the album is it’s best ballad Oh Daddy. There’s a great organ sound in the intro and the dramatic piano bass strikes in on the verse. Christine McVie sings for the other McVie in the band although she told him during the recording that the song was about her dog…
There’s a feel in this song that I don’t have word to describe. In the line ”I’m so weak but you’re so strong” the band ”rushes” like the narrator. There’s fills from different instruments again: electric guitar and even castanets, they sound exciting.
The organ mentioned in the intro keep on going for the whole song, McVie sings like she’s wounded. There’s has to be air in the arrangement, because the thin organ sound doesn’t fall short. At the end there’s another organ coming in, a proper Hammond. The song is capsulized in the line ”And I can’t walk away from you, baby if I tried”. The text is dramatic.
You know you make me cry,
How can you love me,
I don’t understand why.
If I can make you see,
If there’s been a fool around,
It’s got to be me.
You soothe me with your smile,
You’re letting me know,
You’re the best thing in my life.
If I can make you see,
If there’s been a fool around,
It’s got to be me.
Why are you right when I’m so wrong,
I’m so weak but you’re so strong,
Everything you do is just alright,
And I can’t walk away from you, baby
If I tried. ”
The album is ended by Gold Dust Woman with a slightly lighter mood. ”Rock on, gold dust woman / take your silver spoon and dig your grave”. It has all the things that worked on the album: electric piano, guitars, great singing and a melody that’s flavoured from above and below with nice backing vocal melodies. Stevie Nicks works here as the interpretor and songwriter.
The feel is one of an album-ender. The song could have ended with more jamming because the band could play it nicely. But maybe this kind of a long fade-out fits the album better.
From the first measures it can be heard that the album was made with high quality. The way most of the songs were based on the relationships of the bandmembers gives a certain feel of bittersweetness to surround the whole album: like every member’s personal diary of the mid-70s was produced as an album. This dawned to even Fleetwood Mac’s members only when years passed by.
I can’t remember if I have ever experienced the same kind of speechless feeling when an album ends. Rumours did it after all the first five listening sessions. Especially from Go Your Own Way onwards I had a very strong feeling of a saturday night in the life of someone who’s left alone but who wants to be with that special someone.