The title track to Prince‘s 1981 album, “Controversy” was the artist hitting back at various speculations surrounding him at the time. The track talks about race, sexuality, religion and even includes an entire prayer in the middle of it which, ironically and amusingly, caused some controversy. And although the lyrics and the themes are worthy of note here, most importantly it’s just a really good song with a cool, funky beat and one of the catchiest hooks on the album.
Written by Malvina Reynolds back in 1962, “Little Boxes” was a satiric protest song about suburbia and it was initially a hit for Pete Seeger. The Reynolds version would become the theme song for the TV series Weeds in 2005 which would lead to various covers from the likes of Elvis Costello, Linkin Park and Death Cab For Cutie. This is not only a catchy little tune but its lyrics still resonate and are still very relevant today which makes it a timeless classic we’ll probably hear for many more years to come.
Our Song Of The Day for today is “Funk Fujiyama”, a funky Japanese tune released in 1989 by Kome Kome Club, one of the only bands in Japan who tackled soul and funk with great success back in the day. The song is quite simply tons of fun and it’s impossible not to love it right away with its bouncy rhythm and those energetic vocals plus the band itself is a riot when playing live. Gamers might remember the track from Youtuber JewWario‘s “You Can Play This” reviews.
Indeed, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are back with brand new album The Getaway, their first major release since 2011’s I’m With You.
The latter may have been a decent album but the departure of John Frusciante was felt right away as a lot of the songs seemed like they had been tailored to the guitarist’s particular style so let’s hope this new effort gives replacement Josh Klinghoffer a fair shot.
The opener is title track “The Getaway” and it’s a funky slow-burn which builds to an atmospheric bridge and chorus. It’s never quite as catchy as it should be but it works and it’s an enjoyable lead-up to what comes next plus the final few verses are so good they leave you wanting more.
Then comes the first single “Dark Necessities” which cements the dancier, more Summer-friendly elements foreshadowed by the opening track with claps marking the beat, some excellent bass work by Flea and a reflective, memorable chorus. It’s everything you’d want and expect from a RHCP single: commercial yet catchy and ultimately irresistible. The solid piano work throughout helps give the track a pensive mood and Klinghoffer gets a simple yet effective and welcome solo near the end showcasing his own grungier sound.
Chad Smith opens “We Turn Red” with a thumping beat and the song soon reveals itself to be a good old-fashioned rap-style RHCP track with a genuinely pretty melody kicking in every so often. It evokes the likes of “Right On Time” or “All Around The World” in that it’s so disjointed it probably shouldn’t work but it totally does.
With “The Longest Wave”, Josh Klinghoffer finally gets the chance to show he’s not only nailed that core RHCP sound but he can handle softer, more melodic songs. The track itself is a ballad with an ambitious scale and although it’s not the most memorable one on the album, it’s still enjoyable. “Goodbye Angels” has a terrific build-up which should kick butt live and open gigs with a bang. Overuse of the gimmicky “‘ey-yo” line aside, it’s a solid track with some very good guitar and bass work, both of which really come into play during a thrilling extended dual solo ending the song with an appropriate jolt.
Next up is “Sick Love” and that one feels like a track you’d probably find on By The Way with added claps and an upbeat chorus. Josh Klinghoffer once again gets a short solo and it fits in well with the otherwise softer vibe and if you’re wondering who’s playing the piano, you’ll be surprised to learn it’s none other than Elton John. “Go Robot” instantly delivers one of the best bass-lines on the album and although the main verses kinda fizzle out, the solid chorus saves the song from being just a glorified instrumental and, with the help of that clappy beat and some nifty pieces of electro makes it a fun, worthy little track.
“Feasting On The Flowers” doesn’t give much for Anthony Kiedis to sink his teeth into at first but the chorus is creative enough to flesh the song out gradually as it develops into a dancy rag-time and a fun R&B tune. This leads us to “Detroit”, a more experimental track with yet another brilliant bass-line at its heart. The verses and the bridge are the real heroes here as the chorus, which could have worked in a Foo Fighters song maybe, leaves a lot to be desired.
The next track is “This Ticonderoga” and this one should please fans of the band’s rockier work as Klinghoffer gets to proudly grunge-out and mark the rhythm with short scratchy outbursts. By this point, you can really tell that the band has adapted to its new guitarist’s style and wrote those new tracks with this in mind. There’s a more melodic part to the song which also works really well.
“Encore” is not so much an encore as it is one of the catchiest, most melodically rich tracks on the album. It’s just one hell of a pretty song and it manages to not only keep those claps and that Summer feel but deliver a bittersweet vibe as well. Great work all around on that one: maybe the best of the bunch.
“The Hunter” is a slower, bluesier piano-led track with an overall 70’s mood. It’s not very catchy but it’s the Red Hots trying something different both vocally and musically, which is a good thing. It’s promising to see that the band is ready to experiment a little more with songs that may not sell loads of singles but bring something new and unexpected to the table nevertheless.
Finally, we have “Dreams Of A Samurai”, which opens with a piano and vocal choirs before turning into a rockier RHCP track. The song may be a bit all over-the-place but it works as a conclusion cleverly encompassing everything that made this album tick into an almost improvisational jazzy rock tune.
The Getaway does a lot of things right: the album uses Josh Klinghoffer correctly and, although it does provide some safer, more radio-friendly Summer singles, it’s also not afraid to experiment a bit and try some crazier ideas now and then, which is refreshing.
It doesn’t all pay off, most of the songs aren’t too catchy, but there’s something to be said about not having Chad Smith hammer down the same beat in every song like he did in Stadium Arcadium, giving the new guitarist a proper chance and letting Flea run wild with some of his best work in years. You can feel the teamwork that went into making this album and that makes for some good music for sure.
It’s 3 Red Hot Chili Fellas for The Getaway.
It’s not vintage RHCP but still an enjoyable effort regardless.
One of the very best tracks to come out of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club‘s 2010 album Beat The Devil’s Tattoo was “Long Way Down”, a slower track with a bittersweet vibe which builds beautifully. It’s dark and potentially a little depressing but there’s also a dash of hope in there which makes the song upbeat enough that, in the end, it comes off as surprisingly inspiring. Brilliant track.
Can’t go wrong with Neoton Familia. You can always count on the Hungarian disco/pop group to deliver upbeat catchy tunes and hilariously cheesy videos and performances. “Pago Pago” was the first song from their self-titled 1983 album and it was pure kitsch Summer bliss complete with steel drums and one hell of a headspin (see below).
Formed in 1988, Tin Machine was a rock band fronted by David Bowie with Reeves Gabrels on guitar, Tony Sales on bass and Hunt Sales on drums. The project was a way for Bowie to get back to basics with a more raw sound and put his jamming sessions with Gabrels to good use.
The band released their debut, self-titled album in ’89 along with four singles. They would make one other album after that before Bowie returned to his solo work.
How did this debut fare?
The opening track, “Heaven’s In Here”, boasts a very bluesy rhythm and riff throughout and it builds to some excellent guitar solos. It’s refreshing to hear Bowie giving so much freedom to a band and serving as simply the frontman, for once. Hard not to move your feet to this one. The title song “Tin Machine” is a faster-paced punk track that’s a hell of a lot of fun. It was the third single to be released from the album.
“Prisoner Of Love” is next and it’s a slightly darker track that’s also slightly more glam and, by extension, more Bowie. It’s a beautiful song with a catchy hook, great lyrics and first class work from the entire band who already prove themselves to be pretty damn awesome. “Crack City”, like “Heaven’s In Here”, really feels like a 70’s song. It’s very much a track built for live performances with its loud chorus and its buckets of swagger and energy. Expect more fab solos from Gabrels and a bit of a soul vibe throughout as well.
“I Can’t Read” follows and this one feels much more playful yet experimental, almost improvisational even. The screeching guitars are all over the place as the rest of the band figures out the track little by little. It’s not the catchiest of the lot but it still carries that demo-esque raw energy the project promised plus Bowie seems to play a kind of desperate character here, which is entertaining.
You simply can’t go wrong with “Under The God”: it’s the first single to be released from the album and it’s a cracker. Written by Bowie, this is a rocky, punky track worthy of Iggy & The Stooges. With its best-screamed chorus and its bluesy hook, it’s easily one of the best tracks from the band, and that’s saying a lot. Next is “Amazing”, a more chilled-out song with a timeless quality to it. It taps into a vintage rock sensibility which makes it feel like a cover of an old, classic track despite being original. Pretty amazing, indeed.
Speaking of covers, next we have “Working Class Hero”, a cover of one of John Lennon‘s most well-known tracks and one of Bowie’s favourites from the artist. The band does a good job at doing something different with it, not simply imitating the original. This version’s much more dancy and upbeat. While it’s basically impossible to outdo Lennon’s own, this is given the Tin Machine treatment and it works well both as a cover of a classic and as a song from Bowie’s band.
“Bus Stop” opens with a punk riff and, in fact, it feels like a song you could have seen the likes of The Clash come up with. A Joe Strummer cover of this one would have been cool to hear. Gotta love how short and sweet this song is, makes it just perfect. A country version of the track also exists but it doesn’t beat the one described above. Up next is “Pretty Thing” and it’s an erratically-rhythmed rock song with loads of energy and Bowie breaking up the constant beat with his vocals much like John Lennon does in “Cold Turkey”. It’s yet another terrific, fast-paced song which must have kicked ass live.
“Video Crime” is a slower, bluesier track with hip-hop-style vocals and, while it’s a good song with some superb guitar work, you could see a punk version of this one giving it a welcome extra layer of attitude, though you might then miss out on some of Gabrels’ best solos from this album. “Run” has more of a Stranglers vibe to it with the darker toned riffs and moodier vocals. Armed with a catchy chorus, genial solos, some clever breaks and fantastic vocal work from Bowie, this is easily one of Tin Machine’s finest.
“Sacrifice Yourself” is another live-friendly anthem with a faster rhythm and an ingenious mix of hard rock, soul and blues. It’s a short one but it makes for two extremely entertaining minutes. Final track “Baby Can Dance” feels very much like a Bowie effort and, indeed, he wrote this one which bears his trademark unexpected key changes and experimental vocal work. It’s a good choice to end the album on as it leaves us on a high note with its memorable chorus and epic scale. It’s the kind of big finish Bowie usually avoids but he has a ball with it here.
What can I say about Tin Machine’s debut album except…
If Bowie’s core plan for this band project was to get back to basics and deliver an incredibly fun rock album which would showcase his collaborators’ talents then his plan certainly worked out. But Tin Machine feels more than just an enjoyable side project, it’s an experiment that, as a whole, doesn’t feel so much experimental as it does fundamental. It’s a homage to different styles of rock n’ roll from a group of guys who can deliver original work which still feels timeless and classic to this day.
Tin Machine gets a very high 4 Ziggies out of 5 from us and we recommend it as a must for any Bowie or rock fan.