Meet the Beatles (again!)

Posted: February 7, 2014 in Album Reviews, Beatles

Image

Anyone who has spent a great deal of time with me knows I’m obsessed with the Beatles. Although I love a wide variety of music, there will never be another Beatles in my mind. My dad has always been a huge Beatles fan. He remembers vividly watching their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 and he was instantly hooked. He passed that love for all things Beatle to me basically from birth. He played Beatles records and 8-tracks (kids, you’ll have to google those terms!) all the time, and sang Beatles/Paul McCartney tunes whenever it was naptime. My dad would buy blank 8-tracks to make mix tapes from his records. I was 3 or 4 and I always wanted him to make me a mix tape, too. Half of mine would contain various kids songs (probably at the behest of my mom) and the other half would be Beatles tunes. I always liked the Beatles songs better (sorry, mom!). As years went by, the obsession just grew. Even though my dad had all the records, I wanted my own copies and by the time I was 10, I pretty much did (although I had now graduated to cassettes and CDs). I have bought their catalogue a few times over, buying everything again when they remastered it in 2009 in both the stereo and mono box sets. I’ve even got most of the American albums on CD (through the first half of their career, Capitol Records issued different albums in the United States than in Britain, including non-album singles and mixing and matching tracks from the original albums  to the disgust of the band). So as we celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the Beatles landing on our shores, I’d like to rank their 13 albums. Please note that all 13 albums are recommended. Give me the Beatles talking in the studio over anything released by Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and the endless cesspool of ineptitude that passes for popular music these days. Here’s to the days when bands actually played instruments and wrote timeless songs. And now, the album rankings:

 

1. The Beatles (White Album, 1968)
A bit of a controversial choice here, since these sessions are referenced as the beginning of the end for the band. In early 1968, the group convened in India to study transcendental meditation under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. While in India, the band wrote a wealth of material for their next album. By the time they got back to England, they had more than 30 songs ready to record. When they got to the studio, tensions began to mount. John Lennon had just left his wife for the conceptual artist Yoko Ono, and the pair were inseparable. Yoko’s presence in the studio didn’t sit well with the others, since nobody’s wife or girlfriend had ever spent an extended period of time in the studio while the group was recording. The fact she would make suggestions made things worse. But to blame the band’s breakup on Yoko is extremely short-sighted. There were other problems. George Harrison, who had played second fiddle to the dynamic Lennon-McCartney songwriting team, was becoming a prolific songwriter in his own right. Since he was usually allotted two songs per album (three on Revolver, four on the White Album), he began to feel creatively stifled, a situation which would lead to his temporary leaving of the band in early 1969 during the contentious Let It Be sessions. During the White Album sessions, the Beatles seemed more a group of four individuals at times than a band, and that’s because they often recorded tracks individually due to the sheer wealth of material and the deadline to produce the album. But I’ve always loved the White Album. Through the course of two discs, the Beatles tackle just about every style of music and do it well. You’ve got beautiful acoustic ditties like Mother Nature’s Son and Julia on one hand to the heavy-metal menace of Helter Skelter on the other. There’s a country tune penned by Ringo (his first-ever songwriting credit) in Don’t Pass Me By. The old-western, sitting in a saloon feel of Rocky Raccoon shares album space with the caterwauling Yer Blues. A doo-wop, slowed down version of Revolution (titled Revolution 1, since it was the take Lennon wanted to put out as a single before the others vetoed it, saying it was too slow, which led to the faster, classic heavy version issued as Hey Jude’s B-side) segues into the vaudeville/music hall leanings of Honey Pie. And there’s the controversial avant-garde sound collage Revolution 9, which some people hate, but I love (even though it scared the living hell out of me when I was a child) just because the band was pushing the boundaries of pop music as always. And I haven’t even mentioned one of my favorite tunes Dear Prudence yet. Over the years, some critics have opined the band should have made this a single disc, ripping it for it’s sprawl. But I tend to side with Paul McCartney who said during the Anthology series in the 90s ‘It sold, it’s the Beatles bloody White Album, shut up!’ Couldn’t have said it better myself.

2. Revolver (1966)

The album where the Beatles shed the lovable moptop image for good. Their most concise effort, and again, an eclectic one. The band was growing tired of touring (they’d stop for good in August 1966), partly because no one could hear them play and also because they were beginning to really stretch out in the studio. No touring would allow them to devote more time to experiment, and even though they hadn’t yet quit the road, Revolver is where you can really see them branching out. Harrison was now fully devoted to Indian music, taking lessons with sitar master Ravi Shankar. Harrison had introduced the sitar in Norwegian Wood the year before, but he brings a full-on Indian tune here in Love You To, one of three Harrison songs included (the biting commentary Taxman and the excellent I Want to Tell You are the others). McCartney had incorporated a string quartet for Yesterday in 1965, so he brought in a full-orchestra treatment for his classic Eleanor Rigby, one of the greatest tunes about loneliness ever written. Lennon was now into his LSD period, delivering mind-bending tunes like She Said, She Said and the trippy Tomorrow Never Knows, full with tape-loop effects and backwards guitar. The band completely on the top of their game here.

 

3. Rubber Soul (1965)

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Beatles’ career is how far they came during a short period of time. Their early singles (She Loves You, Please Please Me, I Want to Hold Your Hand, etc.) exuded an effervescent charm and real knack for hooks, but they were love songs lyrically, mainly dealing with boy-girl relationships. In late 1964, that began to change with songs like No Reply and I’m a Loser off Beatles for Sale, as the band delved into more mature subject matter. That’s completely evident on Rubber Soul, or what many refer to as the Beatles’ folk album (although that’s stating it way too simply). Here, Lennon churns out the standard ‘In My Life,’ reminiscing about the people and places that were important to him. McCartney’s love songs now had a bit of bite to them, as ‘You Won’t See Me’ and ‘I’m Looking Through You’ chronicle the problems he was having with girlfriend Jame Asher. The previously mentioned ‘Norwegian Wood (This Bird has Flown)’ not only introduced the sitar to rock music, but told a story about an affair Lennon was having at the time, except in this tale, he burns the woman’s house down at the end of it. Even deep album cuts like ‘Run for Your Life’ and the Ringo-led ‘What Goes On’ are executed with aplomb. 

 

4. Abbey Road (1969)

Oh, what a sendoff! The Beatles were falling apart at the seams in 1969, plagued by money issues caused by their ill-advised company, Apple, and personality issues. Their previous attempts at recording an album that year sat on the shelf because nobody wanted to deal with the endless reels of tape and what they viewed as uninspired performances (those sessions would later come out as Let It Be in 1970, the last album the band released but not the last one it recorded). Somehow, maybe because they didn’t want to go out on such a whimper, the Beatles put aside their differences enough to come up with a grand closing statement. Abbey Road qualifies as perhaps their most polished effort. The vocals are immaculate (especially on breathtaking tracks like ‘Because’ and ‘Sun King’), showing the three-part harmony of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison at the absolute peak of its powers. Harrison again showed he was being under-utilized by delivering the classics ‘Something’ and ‘Here Comes the Sun.’ Ringo contributed his second Beatles track, ‘Octopus’ Garden’ and McCartney showed his pop craftsmanship by putting together the brilliant closing medley on Side Two from fragments of songs the band had lying around the last two years. Lennon gave the album a proper kick-off with the swampy blues of ‘Come Together.’ He also contributed the pleading ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy), a song with simplistic lyrics but gut-wrenching vocals, and an almost apocalyptic guitar/synthesizer workout at the end. McCartney deals with some of the money problems the band was having at the time with ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’ and also brings to mind old 50s rock with ‘Oh Darling.’ And the ending statement “And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make’ is such an awesome line and should have been the final words the band sang. Instead, that came in the form of ‘Her Majesty’, a 23-second snippet taken out of the Side 2 medley but accidentally spliced at the end of the tape. When the band heard it, they decided to leave it because it sounded cool. Oh, those Beatles.

 

5. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

For many, this is the crown jewel in the Beatles’ catalogue. Now free from the rigors of touring, the Beatles had ample studio time and they used it wisely here, crafting a psychedelic pop masterpiece and the soundtrack for the Summer of Love. It’s often called rock’s first concept album, although as Lennon would later admit, the concept doesn’t really go anywhere beyond the first two songs and a reprise of the title track later. Nevertheless, it feels like a grand statement or thematic concept, as the songs blended seamlessly and the entire work seems connected somehow, even if it’s not lyrically. Lennon was in a bit of a songwriting slump volume-wise, but oh did he make up for it in quality. The psychedelic trip ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ contained some of his most far-out and vivid imagery, while the album closer ‘A Day in the Life’ is quite simply one of the greatest pop achievements of all time. McCartney came up with the ‘Sgt. Pepper’ theme and song as an idea to dress the band up as a different group (hence the colorful band outfits and the mustaches they had grown during the time), and the elaborate artwork featuring many of the band’s heroes was ahead of its time. 

 

OK, I’ve been at this an hour and a half. My wife is getting antsy so I’m going to do the rest of the albums in a rapid-fire capsule form:

6. A Hard Day’s Night (1964): The first Beatles album to contain no cover songs, and it’s brilliant. Many songs featured on the band’s first film (of the same name), including the title track and ‘Can’t Buy Me Love. Other key tracks: If I Fell, And I Love Her, I’ll Be Back (ah the whole damn thing).

7. Magical Mystery Tour (1967): Title of band’s ill-fated U.K. TV special and the first critical backlash they ever received (for the show, not the album). The music here is phenomenal, although it’s a hodgepodge effort. The first side featured songs from the film, and the second side rounded up their non-Pepper singles of 1967. But my oh my were those singles awesome. Key tracks: Strawberry Fields Forever, Penny Lane, The Fool On the Hill, I Am the Walrus

8. Help! (1965): A transitional album and also the last one to feature cover songs. Still, the songs from the Beatles’ second film are awesome, especially the title track and Ticket To Ride. The non-soundtrack side is also great, featuring Yesterday. Other key tracks: You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away, The Night Before, It’s Only Love

9. With the Beatles (1963): The album Meet the Beatles, Capitol’s first U.S. release, was based on. Only thing is, Meet the Beatles was superior (only time this really happened) due to the inclusion of the classic single I Want to Hold Your Hand/This Boy and I Saw Her Standing There. Still, With the Beatles contains an outstanding collection of cover songs and originals. Key tracks: It Won’t Be Long, All My Loving, Money (That’s What I Want), You Really Gotta Hold on Me

10. Please Please Me (1963): The Beatles’ opening salvo. The product of a monumental 12-hour recording session, in which the band replicated their club set under the helpful guidance of producer George Martin (can’t believe I haven’t mentioned his genius yet). Key tracks: Please Please Me, Twist and Shout, I Saw Her Standing There

11. Let it Be (1970): Lennon and Harrison brought uber-producer Phil Spector in to clean up the early 1969 tracks, sessions which were being filmed in the hopes of showing the Beatles getting their act together to produce a live show. The live show’s location couldn’t be agreed upon, and with tensions coming to a boil (Harrison left the band temporarily), they decided to film a short show on the Apple Records rooftop, their final live performance. During those sessions, the Beatles wanted to ‘get back’ to their roots, meaning no overdubs and takes recorded live. By bringing in Spector, who put orchestral and choral flourishes to tracks like ‘The Long and Winding Road’ and ‘Across the Universe’, this didn’t happen. And McCartney was pissed. He announced his departure from the band a month before this was released. Key tracks: Two of Us, Dig a Pony, I’ve Got a Feeling, Let it Be, Across the Universe

12. Beatles for Sale (1964): The originals here are first-rate early Beatles, with Lennon especially showing songwriting growth in tunes like No Reply, I’m a Loser and Baby’s in Black. Just gets a bit bogged down with covers, as the band’s relentless touring and promotional schedule that year caused a dip in songwriting productivity. Other key tracks: Every Little Thing, What You’re Doing, I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party, Eight Days a Week

13. Yellow Submarine (1969): Album really should be credited to Beatles and George Martin, as the first side collects songs from the band’s animated film and the second side featured soundtrack offerings orchestrated by Martin. Of the six band songs, only four were new (Yellow Submarine and All You Need is Love were previously released). These tracks were basically holdovers from previous sessions, but the Beatles’ scraps were still more interesting than others’ best efforts. Harrison’s psychedelic showcase ‘It’s All Too Much’ is the best of that group. Other key tracks: Hey Bulldog, All Together Now

 

And here’s a few others to check out:

Anthology 1, Anthology 2, Anthology 3 (1995-96): The three double-disc volumes of Beatles outtakes released in conjunction with the documentary of the same name. Anthology 1 and Anthology 2 contained the ‘reunion’ tracks Free As a Bird and Real Love, as the three surviving Beatles cleaned up old Lennon demos provided by Yoko and released them as singles to promote the project. They’re actually quite good and would be even better today, as technology has advanced where Lennon’s vocals could be further cleaned up. But the outtakes throughout this collection are fascinating, showing the Beatles tinkered with songs’ arrangements constantly. And while they always picked the best one, early versions are pretty damn entertaining.

Live at the BBC, Volumes 1 and 2 (1994, 2013): Since there are no live Beatles albums in print (1977’s Live at the Hollywood Bowl was never put out on CD), this is about the close we can get to hearing the band recorded live. From 1962 to 1965, the Beatles recorded a series of shows for British Broadcasting, taping many songs they never put down in the studio, including oodles of rock covers from the 50s.

Meet the Beatles! (1964): The album that started it all for the Beatles in America. A bastardized version of their November 1963 release With the Beatles, this was one case where the American version was better. Only one cover here, and the inclusion of the I Want to Hold Your Hand single makes this one essential listening (as all Beatle recordings are).
Past Masters Volumes 1 and 2 (1988): A collection of all the tracks released during the band’s career but not included on the official British albums, i.e. singles and B-sides. If you included this in the album rankings, it would place in the top five easily with presence of great singles like Day Tripper, Hey Jude, Paperback Writer, Lady Madonna, etc.

 

Fatherhood

Posted: November 12, 2013 in Beatles, Mets, Odds and Sods

Our first child was born 12 days ago, at 12:07 p.m. on Halloween. Our little trick or treater. My brother Carl dubbed her ‘Little Boo.’
Regardless, Chiersten Marie Sodergren is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I can watch her sleep or eat, and I don’t need anything else in the world.
Holding her while she is sleeping gives me such a feeling of satisfaction, one I can’t quite put into words.
Many people have said I would lose a ton of sleep over first few months, and so far they are right. But not for the reason you would expect. Chiersten is already sleeping 2 to 3 hours a pop at night. As for me. It takes awhile to fall asleep. When I do fall asleep, I am out 40 minutes and then I am jolted awake by a bolt of energy. I simply can’t wait to see her again.
As for Tina, this whole experience just brought us even closer, which is hard to believe because I never thought I could love her more than I already did . Boy, was I wrong. She re-defined toughness during her 26 hour labor, rejecting the epidural until the 12 hour mark when nothing was happening dilation wise yet the pain piled on by the second. And now seeing her with Chiersten, we are sure why God brought us together. We are a wonderful team and always will be.

inutero

It’s hard to believe 20 years have passed since the release of Nirvana’s third and final studio album, In Utero.
When the album was originally released in September 1993, I was a freshman at Bloomsburg University. The music scene back then was so much better than it is today, but that makes me come off as a crotchety old man.
But back in 1993, rock bands (I refuse to call them grunge bands because what the hell is grunge really?) like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains ruled the music world and MTV (remember when MTV played music videos?). Today the landscape is dominated by pop schlock generated by talentless hacks like Justin Beiber, Katy Perry and the like. Today, folksy tunesmiths like Mumford and Sons and poppy bands like Fun and Imagine Dragons are what is considered rock (not ripping on these artists, but they don’t overtly rock). At least those bands play instruments, but I find myself longing for times when the pop landscape was much more diverse than it is now.
When Nirvana hit it big with 1991’s Nevermind, Michael Jackson still ruled the charts and rap was in its early stages as a viable music medium (and much fresher than most of the rap churned out today). Hard rocking bands like Guns N Roses and Metallica were at the peak of their powers, but Nirvana was something else to behold.
They rocked hard, but maintained their punk sensibilities. Kurt Cobain was the anti-rock rock star, which ultimately contributed to his demise.
Nevermind, and namely its lead single “Smells Like Teen Spirit” launched the band into the stratosphere. Cobain suddenly became the spokesperson for his generation, a role he never seemed all too comfortable with.
When it came time to record a follow-up to Nevermind, the band set out to shed some of its mainstream audience gained with the shiny Nevermind. The music was darker, louder and certainly not as “radio friendly.” One of the best examples of this came in a track called “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter”, a title so intentionally ironic. This wasn’t radio-friendly at all, but still gained a big audience nonetheless.
In Utero has always been my favorite Nirvana album. The way it shifts from noisy screamers like “Scentless Apprentice”, “Milk It” and “Tourette’s” to the more quiet “Dumb” and brilliant closer “All Apologies” shows a band really coming into its own. It’s a shame Cobain committed suicide a mere 7 months after it’s release, as the band certainly had plenty of gems left up its sleeve.
For the 20th anniversary edition, original producer Steve Albini remastered the album, and it sounds wonderful. Included on the first disc are album B-sides “Marigold” and “Moist Vagina.” “Marigold” was the only Nirvana tune written and sung by Dave Grohl, and it’s a lovely little acoustic tune. “Moist Vagina” is awesome, with Cobain mumbling the lyrics “She has a moist vagina, I particularly enjoy the circumference” under heavy guitars. Turns out, the song really isn’t about chicks at all, as Cobain screams the chorus “Marijuana” throughout the song. Also included are the two tracks from the era given to compilation albums, “Sappy” and “I Hate Myself and Want to Die.” “Sappy” was given to the excellent No Alternative compilation album, and was formerly known as “Verse Chorus Verse” before another tune, recorded in the Nevermind era, was released under that name on 2004’s With the Lights Out box set. “I Hate Myself and Want to Die” was reportedly Cobain’s original choice for the album title (meant as a joke at the time, but thank God the album didn’t get called that given the events that followed), and here the song opens with a funny snippet of Dave Grohl talking about a porno.
On the second disc, a remixed version (by Albini) is included where you can here subtle differences to the songs. “Serve the Servants” has an entirely different guitar solo. The cello is largely excised from “Dumb” The guitar counter melody to “Very Ape” is much more prominent, and the “all in all is all we are” lyrics are brought up in the mix on “All Apologies.” It creates a fresh take on a classic album.
They simply don’t make albums like In Utero anymore.

Sod rating: *****

Image

For his first official solo album in six years (2008’s excellent The Fireman album doesn’t quite count), Paul McCartney enlisted the help of four producers with the hopes of finding the right one.

Turns out, the former Beatle enjoyed working with them all. Two of the producers have Beatles connections, or at least their dads do. Giles Martin, son of Beatles producer George, and Ethan Johns, son of Glyn (who worked on the ill-fated Let it Be project) lend support, as do Paul Epworth (Adele) and Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse, Bruno Mars).

Working with younger collaborators seems to have lit a spark under Sir Paul, as his new album (aptly titled New) continues McCartney’s late-period renaissance (which began with 1997’s excellent Flaming Pie)

The album contains a variety ofu musical styles from the straight-ahead Strokes-like rocker Save Us to the almost Penny Lane like title track (complete with harpsichord), there is much here to like.

Queenie Eye contains a throw everything at the kitchen sink psychedelic vibe, complete with a mid-song breakdown which sounds like it was lifted from another song entirely. It’s marvelous, showing McCartney is still adventurous at age 71.

One of the more reflective pieces on the album is Early Days, where McCartney recalls his pre-Beatle days with John Lennon, where they were looking for anyone to listen to their music. He also takes issue for the many Beatle scribes over the years who claim to know everything about the band’s history but “weren’t where it was at.”

On My Way to Work shows off McCartney’s storytelling ability, as he sings about “riding on a big green bus” and watching the people as waits arrive at work. Again, it takes the listener back to a time before McCartney was one of the most recognizable faces on the planet.

There are interesting stylistic detours and modern production flourishes included on tracks like Road, which has an almost trancelike feel to it (it would have fit nicely on the aforementioned Fireman album) and even features a xylophone quite prominently.

Everybody Out There and I Can Bet should fit quite well into Paul’s arena set, with easy to sing along choruses and a huge rock sound.

The bonus tracks on the deluxe edition aren’t mere filler. Turned Out almost sounds like a lost George Harrison track, while Get Me Out of Here shows off Paul as a 1920s bluesman.

New is a refreshing batch of McCartney tunes, growing on the listener with every spin.

Sod rating: *****

 

It’s been a long time (since I rock and rolled). Seriously, I have neglected this blog far too long, and now it’s time to get back in the saddle (again).

Think my last post was in December, by far the longest I’ve gone between posts since I started this shabang four years ago. Has it really been that long? Time certainly flies.

Since I last graced you with my presence, much has happened. Namely, my lovely wife Tina is pregnant with our first child, a girl ready to make her entrance into this world sometime in late October. World Series time, but as any long-suffering Met fan will tell you, our team will be nowhere near the World Series save for watching it on TV.

As far as the Mets go, I like the baby steps they are taking rebuilding the farm system. They seem to have pitching galore, always a good thing. The major-league club is a mess, especially offensively. Yet, I don’t want to see them unload 4-5 top prospects for a Giancarlo Stanton or Carlos Gonzalez in the offseason. They need to hold on to as many young arms as they can, as the San Francisco Giants have proven you can win with a lackluster offense if you have pitching and defense.

I’m loving Matt Harvey’s emergence as a true No. 1, and he looks like he may soon be the best pitcher in baseball (he’s already in the discussion). Also hoping Zack Wheeler can live up to his immense promise and give the team a dynamic 1-2 punch atop the rotation for years to come. So far, the results have been uneven. Wheeler still needs to work on his command, but the stuff is for real. Noah Syndergaard, the pitcher the Mets basically stole from the Jays in the R.A. Dickey trade, is flourishing since his call-up to Double-A. Huge righty with a fastball he can dial up to 99 and a power curveball. Also has more command than Wheeler showed in the minors. They need to hold on to him, as he seems to be a guy any team would demand (and should) in a trade for a top outfielder.

Anyway, just wanted to get the ball rolling again on the blog. Will try to be better at posting. It’s July and I’ve finally made my first post of 2013. Hope all three of my loyal readers are alive and well!

aerosmith
It’s been 11 long years since Aerosmith last released an album of original material, and much has happened to the band in that time.

Infighting nearly led to the group’s demise after frontman Steven Tyler was rumored to have fallen off the wagon (and fallen off the stage in a 2009 concert). Tyler eventually landed on American Idol as a judge, and for a time, the band was supposedly auditioning other singers.

Somehow, some way, they put aside their differences and finally began work on the follow-up to 2001’s Just Push Play (they did release an excellent album of blues covers in 2004 called Honkin on Bobo). I got excited when I found out Jack Douglas was co-producing the album, as he was behind the boards for their greatest 70s triumphs Toys in the Attic and Rocks.

The band promised a return to their to their roots, and in some spots on the album, they deliver on that promise.

However, Music from Another Dimension tells the tale of two bands – one led by guitarist Joe Perry and the other led by Tyler.

Perry still wants to rock, and the band does just that on album highlights like “Love XXX,” “Oh Yeah,” “Out Goes the Lights,” “Street Jesus” and “Freedom Fighter (which Perry takes lead vocals on.”

Tyler, like he has been doingsince 1993’s Get a Grip, shows an over-tendency to reach for the heartstrings. Quite simply, there are way too many ballads on the 15-track standard version of the album. (The 19-track deluxe version has yet another ballad). And many of these ballads are schmaltzy and interchangeable. “Can’t Stop Loving You” is a ballad with country princess Carrie Underwood, and while it’s ok for that genre, it doesn’t fit as an Aerosmith song and is an obvious attempt at crossover success. “We All Fall Down” and “What Could Have Been Love” are two more faceless ballads, with the first written by Diane Warren (who is responsible for Aerosmith’s worst-ever song I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing, also inexplicably the band’s only No. 1 hit).

Those three songs come in the middle of the album, and drag the momentum down significantly. The album gets off to a strong six-song start with mostly rockers (the ballad “Tell Me” is one of the better ballads, probably because it is written by bassist Tom Hamilton and had no outside help from professional hitmakers, lowering its cheese quotient exponentially). But once you get to track 7 (What Could Have Been Love), the album slides into a streak of alternating gratingly weepy ballads with quality rockers. If anything, these ballads should have been spaced out better, but 2-3 songs could have been eliminated and this would have been a much stronger set. The album’s flow is a big problem throughout, as the two songs sung by Perry (Freedom Fighter and Something) are lumped closely together at the end, between yet two more ballads (Closer and the tearjerker Another Last Goodbye, which is much better than the middle trio of faceless schmaltz).

The four songs on the deluxe edition vary in quality. “Shakey Ground” is an old R&B cover, and Aerosmith shows its funky side, which is very fun and interesting. “Over the Mountain” is written and sung by Hamilton, and quite frankly, would have been better if Tyler handled the vocals. “Oasis in the Night” is a pleasing mid-tempo ballad written and sung by Perry, while “Sunny Side of Love” is a slight but solid Tyler ballad (certainly better than a few that made the actual album).

The album shows Aerosmith still has plenty of musical talent, but they could use better editing skills. This could have been a true return to form if cut to 10-12 songs. Instead, it’s an uneven hodgepodge of a record that doesn’t quite flow. But, I’ll take this over no Aerosmith at all.

Sod rating: ***

Mets about to make big mistake

Posted: November 27, 2012 in Mets
Tags:

Multiple published reports have the Mets offering David Wright a seven-year contract extension. The exact terms of the extension is up for debate, but it seems to be in the $120-125 million range. I have big time problems with this if it happens, and I’m a fan of Wright.

Wright came up through the Mets system and has been a fine player, both on and off the field. But he will be 30 in December and since the Mets picked up his option, this new deal wouldn’t even kick in until 2014, when he’ll be 31. So, he’d be with the Mets until his age-38 season. Ask the Yankees how A-Rod is doing in his late 30s without PEDs.

This just seems to be the latest in a long line of foolhardy business decisions made by Mets ownership (the Wilpon family). It proves that they care nothing about winning and only about the bottom line. Wright, the Mets’ face of the franchise and most marketable player, puts fans in the seats and sells jerseys. They’re probably afraid if they trade him, even fewer fans will come to the morgue also known as Citi Field.

But they don’t seem to realize, winning will put fans in the seats again, and I’m not so sure this improves the team. Tying up this much money to one player is the type of thing we’ve been seeing for years now (that is when the team actually opens the purse strings, which has happened less and less since the Madoff scandal). The better option would be to trade Wright for a package of prospects and try to fill the numerous holes on the roster. The outfield is a travesty, the catching is a joke and the bullpen (as always) sucks rhino balls.

The Mets brass doesn’t seem to know which way is up, so I have very little faith they’ll be able to make the right moves. I truly believe Sandy Alderson and company would trade Wright in a heartbeat if not for the presence of Jeff Wilpon, the owner’s son and wanna-be baseball executive. Jeffy Wilpon has done nothing in his life but be born with the right bloodlines, and he is running the Mets into the ground. The organization has no direction. On one hand they say they’re rebuilding the farm system, yet when draft time comes, they go with safe easily signable picks.

One week they say they are going to improve the team through trades. And then today, according to beat writer Adam Rubin, they are going to go the free agent route to improve their joke of an outfield. But in the same report, it says Scott Hairston may be too expensive for them. If Hairston, who did a nice job in a platoon role last year, is too expensive, I hate to think of the shit stains they’re looking at.

What they really should do is trade Wright for a CF prospect , RH catching prospect and perhaps a young pitcher (can never have too many of those) Then sign a stopgap third baseman  like Kevin Youkilis or Jeff Keppinger to a one-year deal while prospect Wilmer Flores hones his skills at AAA. And they’d still have enough money to sign a decent OF to go along with the one they traded for in a Wright deal.

It just seems this team is forever treading water. I would almost be out and out shitty for a year or two than the 74-78 mediocrities we’ve grown accustomed to lately. At least the Mets would get a top 5 draft pick and maybe hit a home run on one.

I love the Mets and always will, but I get the sinking feeling they’ll never be a championship team as long as the Wilpons are in charge. At least I’ve got my 86 Mets championship DVDs to comfort me.