Hey there! Welcome to Teatro Triste del Clown.
This site started out as something else and then a few years ago, we got it into our head that we were going to write about every song in our music collection. Memo and I have been doing this for years – I’m going forward in the alphabet and just recently started on the letter J and Memo, as it happens, is also on the letter J. As of this writing. It might be a while before I update this pinned announcement again, so, well, yeah.
For a brief overview of my limitations as a music writer, click here. Memo writes with considerably more intelligence than I!
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The Index of what we’ve done so far keeps growing.
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Track Eighteen from 2006’s Humid Teenage Mediocrity 1992-1996 was originally released on the 1995 Demo Cannibal Song Book. was later Officially released as Track Twelve on their 1997 debt album Sexless Demons and Scars which I already discussed my interpretation of. So the onerous comparison between the released demo version and the quasi-polished officially released version now falls upon my shoulders.
Irregardless of the daunting challenge, I must engage. However, there is not htat much of a discernible difference except a few nuances, so instead how about some comparative fluff…
How about we sign it in ASL? Dirty Signs with Kristin is a channel I follow and she will teach us how to sign “Cum Dumpster.”
Original 1995 Demo release
Remastered Version is at 46:17
Live in 1995
Live in 1998
Album cover video:
Due to the alphabetical nature of iTunes, we’ll be listening to Joy Division’s two albums in reverse order. We start with their final album, 1980’s Closer. This is where we must discuss Martin Hannett.
Joy Division wanted to be a punk band, perhaps like the Sex Pistols. Sumner and Hook saw the Sex Pistols perform in 1976 and decided immediately that they wanted to form a band. In concert, they apparently initially sounded much more hard edged. When they were signed to Factory records, they went to work with producer Martin Hannett.
Hannett had a different agenda than Joy Division and, in his hands, the band developed a sound on record that was eventually labeled “post-punk” or sometimes even “goth.” Indeed, Closer is often cited as the first goth album. Joy Division apparently wasn’t especially happy with this at first, but they came to both like the sound and to credit Hannett with developing it.
Review Ned Raggett describes how Closer‘s opening track, “Atrocity Exhibition,” owes a sonic debt to Can. I hear that now that he’s pointed that out. The thing that grabs me about the song, however, is Bernard Sumner’s disturbing, chainsaw like guitar work. Between the title, the grim lyrics and subject matter and the guitar, you get the feeling that something dreadful and bloody is going on. Its a spectacular, creepy mix of soundscape and text.
“Atrocity Exhibition” grabs your attention immediately and doesn’t let go. You’re sucked into the horrors, large and small, of Closer right from the start.
I first encountered Joy Division because I was a big fan of New Order. See, Joy Division would become New Order after the former’s lead singer, Ian Curtis committed suicide (famously, on the eve of a tour of the U.S.). His fellow Joy Division band mates – Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris – would soldier on as New Order after his death. The classic sound of the two bands is pretty different, but you can hear similarities, particularly in Hook’s unmistakable bass work and Sumner’s guitar work.
“Love Will Tear Us Apart” was a non-album single and probably remains Joy Division’s best loved and most successful song. Written in response to The Captain and Tenille’s “Love Will Keep Us Together,” Curtis wrote the song when his marriage was starting to fall apart.
I first heard of the song because of a borderline dreadful Paul Young cover of it:
I have a number of friends who are huge Joy Division fans, but I could never quite get into them. When I started this iPod project, part of the goal was to force myself to listen to a number of bands and artists that I’d previously not paid much attention to. Joy Division was high on that list and I’m pleased to report that after listening to them for a couple of weeks, I hear the connection to New Order and also have developed a new appreciation for their work.
If you’ve not heard this song, though, I can’t encourage you to listen to it enough. Its a song whose quality matches the hype that surrounds it.
Album cover video:
Last song by Journey here, and the first single from 1981’s Escape. The song was a pretty big hit in its time before it was completely overshadowed by “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Open Arms.” As it happens, I added this one to my library fairly recently. Its a decent rocker with some good vocals and better-than-average Journey lyrics.
There are a few other Journey songs that I rather liked (“Stone in Love” comes to mind) but I haven’t added them yet. Not sure if I ever will or not.
Album cover video:
Somehow, maybe because of The Sopranos, “Don’t Stop Believin'” enjoyed an unlikely second life in 2008-09. I owned a copy of its parent album, Escape, but even in the early 80’s I was starting to realize that liking Journey just wasn’t cool.
The lyrics are borderline nonsensical. Something about kids wanting to live free and Steve Perry is telling them it could happen someday if they just believe hard enough. It certainly touched an adolescent nerve in the early 80’s.
My improv community was so into this song several years ago. I think it was the first Journey song I added to my iPod because we needed it for the end of certain shows. The whole of the local improv world would sing the song at the top of their lungs. I think they were enjoying it ironically, but its kind of hard to tell with improvisers sometimes.
I tolerate the song and was amused by its use at the end of The Sopranos, but I don’t seek it out and I skip over it when I can.
“Loving, Touching, Squeezing,” from 1979’s Evolution is my favorite Journey song, primarily because of Steve Perry’s vocal performance, but also because of the construction of the song.
I know there are a whole lot of Journey detractors out there – I am often one of them. I get it. They can play overblown, manipulative corporate rock. That doesn’t mean they don’t create some great songs as well. Just because something is bloated and corporate doesn’t, ipso facto, make it lousy. A thing is lousy in and of itself and not because of its genre or its creators (I’ll be writing, for example, about a ton of Kanye West songs soon).
That said, Perry hits the highest notes on this song with such effortless passion that I am at least mildly amazed every time I hear it. Furthermore, the song is written to build from a fairly restrained first verse to all out vocal pyrotechnics on the last verse, culminating in a sassy “nyah nyah nyah” for the last minute or so of the song. The harmony on that final “nyah nyah” is the icing on the cake.
Lyrically, the song is a typical ‘I love you, you love somebody else, he broke your heart, nyah nyah nyah” tune that probably sounds more like the ranting of an immature frat boy than an adult, but that’s their audience in 1979. I don’t feel especially inspired by the words, but I don’t need to pay attention to them to enjoy it when Steve Perry sings “it won’t long yet, ’til you’re alone/When your lover, oh he hasn’t come home…” Man, listening to his voice for pure musicality on songs is a pleasure, and no longer a guilty one.
Track Seventeen from 2006’s Humid Teenage Mediocrity 1992-1996 was originally released on the 1996 Industry Only Demo Cockroach Waltz. The lyrics to this song make me think this companion song to Cherry Scented which was aimed at the mistreatment by her Step-Mother. This song is obviously aimed at her Father, who instead of protecting her like a Father should, allowed the abuse as much as perpetuated and contributed to it.
The Confederate part of the title of the song is a reflection on growing up as “…a female living in the sexist state of Florida…” and doing a play on words for Flag she uses as a slur to symbolize her disdain for her Father. It is not intended to be disrespectful to the LGBT community, but as ultimate insult to the narrow-minded racist philosophy espoused by her parents and community.
Track Sixteen from 2006’s Humid Teenage Mediocrity 1992-1996 was most likely originally released as Bruises Are Back in Style (Dirty Panties mix) on the 1993 Demo Children 5 And Up. This song opens up with music box playing a standard associated with a baby’s mobile and/or a young girls jewelry box with a spinning ballerina. If add in a line from the lyrics Innocence fuels my foolish mind, there leaves little doubt (in my mind at the very least) that…
This is an expression of ones anger towards someone who took full advantage of ones naïveté.
The simplistic guitar riff with the layered vocals of Jessicka reinforces the “child anger” towards a perp, perhaps an adult that was trusted unconditionally. The song ends with the same music box standard as the opening, underscoring the singer as an innocent youth tainted…
Music over album cover.
Performance from their very first live show in 1993
Track Fifteen from 2006’s Humid Teenage Mediocrity 1992-1996 was originally released on the 1996 Industry Only Demo Cockroach Waltz. The lyrics seem to be a reference to the world’s oldest profession. The opening musical arrangement sounds like an updated version of Classic Americana and could be a reference to the cottage industry of prostitution in the US.
So, there are a few other Journey songs that I actually like enough to listen to on a regular basis (and not just when somebody sings them at my wedding). “Any Way You Want It” is one such song. I cringe calling Journey “hard rock” (that’s like using “rock” and “REO Speedwagon” in the same sentence), but I suppose that technically, this is a hard rock song. Its so very 80’s, but in the best possible way. Primarily because Steve Perry is amazing.