Saturday, October 30, 2010


Rob Zombie, like Alice Cooper, is sort of the perfect rock star for Halloween: dude lives it 24/7/365. Hell, he even directed two Halloween remake films! (I highly recommend the first one, the second, not so much.)  I just wrote about Rob's excellent Halloween compilation, Halloween Hootenanny, but all of his albums (solo and with White Zombie) are great for Halloween. You can hear the best of both eras on his Past, Present & Future collection.

But Rob has also had lots of great looks that you can use for your own Halloween costume, none are probably better than the one seen here on the cover of his 1998 album Hellbilly Deluxe.  Pasty white makeup, black/green makeup around the eyes, and an "X" on the forehead.  You can add a tophat if you have one. A Rob or White Zombie t-shirt would help, but even without that, it's a pretty cool and creepy costume for Halloween!


I don't know why this album never got too much attention, but it is my favorite Halloween album (maybe it is tied with the The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack). In 1998 at the height of his popularity, Rob Zombie started his own short-lived record label, Zombie A Go-Go Records, and put out albums by bands like The Ghastly Ones and The Bomboras. He also put out The Halloween Hootenanny collection: it featured all songs recorded specifically for the record by lots of cool and creepy bands. Rob, backed by The Ghastly Ones, did "Halloween (She Get So Mean)."  Two bands who I am still a big fan of were on the album: The Reverend Horton Heat ("The Halloween Dance") and the late and missed Rocket From The Crypt ("I Drink Blood").  There are other great songs on the album by Southern Culture On The Skids ("Werewolf"), Los Straitjackets (their cover of "The Munsters" theme) and Dead Elvi ("The Creature Stole My Surfboard").  But the best song is probably The Swingin' Neckbreakers with "No Costume, No Candy." Unfortunately, this album seems to be out of print, and you can't get the songs on iTunes.  Someone should reissue it, and in the meantime, try to find it at a used CD store (or you can still order the CD on Amazon) - you'll be prepared for next year!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


It turns out that Devo isn't the only band that sells their own Halloween costumes: The Misfits do as well. This costume, pictured here, isn't really identifiably a Misfits costume other than the logo on the shirt though. Still, if you like it, you can get it at the band's website.

Of course, the band isn't what they used to be: Glenn Danzig hasn't been in the group for decades.  Bassist Jerry Only is now the lead singer as well. I don't want to hate on anyone, but for me, without Danzig, it isn't The Misfits.

If you really want to be a Misfit, I'd say just wear lots of black leather, use white makeup with black around your eyes, pull a long lock of your hair down in front of your face and wear a classic era Misfits shirt. See below!

Oh yeah, again, don't be a poseur! If you're going to dress as a Misfit, you probably already have their music. But if you don't (today on The Morning Jolt With Larry Flick, Larry pointed out that lots of kids wear Misfits t-shirts but probably don't really listen to the music), pick some up. Get the 1986 compilation Misfits and 1995's Collection II. Or, if you want to spend a bit more, both of those are included in the 1996 box set The Misfits. It's shaped like a coffin, so it's worth the extra bucks!


Last Halloween, Jane's Addiction played the Voodoo Festival in New Orleans.  The vibe must have been amazing if you were there - but if you weren't, you should check out this DVD, Live Voodoo. It's one of the last times that they played with original bassist Eric Avery, who has since quit the band again. I saw the band last summer, and they were incredible.  I had seen them with Flea on bass, and with Chris Chaney, and both shows were great, but there's just something about the chemistry of the original four guys playing together.

This performance in New Orleans, a place where Jane's definitely fit in, makes you forget about the bad solo albums, side projects and reality shows.  Perry Farrell is the shaman, Dave Navarro is a guitar god playing with a sense of danger that few other virtuosos can muster, and Stephen Perkins, known to play some kinda hippiesh stuff in his band Banyan, reminds you that he has the power of Bonham and Moon. Perry doesn't sing the way he used to - but he still has his charisma. It's a great performance.

So as I mentioned, Eric Avery has left the band again, Duff McKagan joined and quit, and now they're looking for a new bass player (they have two gigs booked in December).  It's really a bummer, but I do think Perry, Dave and Stephen can make good music together (their 2003 album, Strays was really good). But this DVD reminds you how great the band is with the original four guys.

But see for yourself: watch the live version of "Stop!" here.


Not every Halloween costume has to be scary monster or goth stuff - you can also dress like Devo! And the band make it easy for you: you can order the classic Devo uniform (or their newer blue and white version) right on their website! In fact, I think that's what the members of Pearl Jam did last Halloween (when they played a Halloween concert at the Philadelphia Spectrum, they came out for an encore dressed as Devo and covered "Whip It"). See the video below.

But don't be the person dressed as Devo without knowing their music!  If you don't have any Devo in your collection, pick up the 1990 Greatest Hits collection.  If you want to go a bit deeper, try: 1978's Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, 1979's Duty Now For The Future, or 1980's Freedom Of Choice. Or give their latest album a try, Something For Everyone, which came out earlier this year (particularly if you're going to use their new uniform, you should know their new music, don't be a poseur!).

Anyway, check out Pearl Jam dressed as Devo, covering "Whip It":

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


So, you want to dress up as a badass looking rock icon for Halloween, but don't want to be the zillionth person dressed as a member of KISS? Try one of their influences, soon-to-be-Rock-and-Roll-Hall-of-Famer Alice Cooper! (at least he'd get my vote!)

It's actually a bit easier than KISS: all you need is some black makeup for your eyes (and the lines from your mouth), get a top hat and you're good to go! For added effect, a cane would help, and even a fake snake (using real snakes or any other real animal as part of a costume is definitely NOT cool, so don't do it!).

Also not cool: dressing like an artist whose music you aren't familiar with, so let me make some recommendations here. If you're just starting out, there are a lot of Alice collections to choose from , but go with the 2001 Rhino collection Mascara and Monsters. If you want to go deeper into some classic albums, I'll recommend 1971's Love It To Death, 1971's Killer, 1972's School's Out, 1973's Billion Dollar Babies or 1975's Welcome To My Nightmare.  And if you want to go really deep, pick up the excellent box set, The Life & Crimes Of Alice Cooper. Of his more recent stuff, I enjoy 2005's Dirty Diamonds. And one of my favorite things he's done was his Halloween single that he released last year, "Keepin' Halloween Alive."


Last year around Halloween, I brought a bunch of Halloween songs onto The Morning Jolt with Larry Flick. Turns out, Larry hates Halloween!  Oops!  But I'm a bit too much of a glutton for punishment, and plus I actually love Halloween, so I'm trying again! This week, I'm going to be discussing bands who you can dress as for Halloween. I know that lots of women (and men) are going to dress like Lady Gaga, and that's fertile ground. Of course, lots of guys (and women) like to dress like KISS. And lets not forget Stevie Nicks, who gets her own night once a year where people dress like her. I thought I'd come up with some other costumes, and I'll do individual posts about different artists over the next few days about different bands you can dress as, and I'll be discussing them tomorrow morning.

But P.S. here are some great Halloween songs if you want to rock out on the 31st.


I saw Muse a little over a year ago at Giants Stadium, opening for U2. It's not easy to open for U2, especially in a stadium.  I've seen Kings Of Leon, No Doubt, and two of my favorite artists ever, Primus and PJ Harvey, open for U2. No one owned the stage as much as Muse did.  I said that I had to see them headline on their own.

This weekend, I got my chance to do that.  I walked out of the show saying "If I were in high school or college today, they would be my favorite band. They'd be my band." The way Rush, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Public Enemy, Faith No More, Soundgarden or Jane's Addiction were my band when I was that age. There are very, very few bands out there today that I would say that about: The White Stripes, The Black Keys, The Gaslight Anthem, System Of A Down, maybe Arcade Fire.

Muse has often been compared to Radiohead, and I "get" that. They are just as artistic (and singer Matt Bellamy sounds like Thom Yorke) but more muscular, and their ambition is like U2's: they want to be the biggest band in the world, and this concert makes a good case for that. They don't seem to sweat being in a huge rock group, they're more worried about the state of the world, and their stage gives them a great platform to voice that (especially in songs like "United States of Eurasia"). Speaking of their stage, it was super modern a la U2's 360 stage (albeit on a slightly smaller scale). The show started with each of the three members atop a column - and each side of the column was a video screen.  There was a lot to look at, and like the 360 stage, Muse's stage was a work of art in itself. It didn't overpower the band at all though. They thundered through every song I wanted to hear "Uprising," "Resistance," "Supermassive Black Hole") and showed a sense of humor when their power went out three songs in (taking bows and leaving the stage, only to return minutes later and pick up at the exact spot in "New Born" - so as not to deprive fans of Matt's face-melting guitar solo).

I've heard that Muse wants to do a lower-key thing for their next tour and that's fine - they can go back and forth, just like U2 has done over the years.  I don't mean to keep comparing them to U2 - they are their own band.  But it is hard to imagine many other groups today playing arenas and stadiums in 20 years, but with Muse it's easy to picture.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


For those who are new to No Expiration, every Wednesday morning at 9 am-ish, I go on SIRIUS XM OutQ's The Morning Jolt with Larry Flick (co-hosted by Keith Price) to talk about music. Sometimes I have a theme, and tomorrow I'm going to be talking about recently released "team-up" albums. (We may also talk about the late, great Solomon Burke as well).

First off is the album by John Legend & The Roots, Wake Up. It's an album of covers of socially conscious R&B and soul covers from the '60s and '70s (as well as one new song written for the documentary Waiting For Superman). Yes, the album was inspired by Barack Obama's election, and was originally supposed to be an EP, but ended up becomming a full length album. Some people think that John Legend is too polite and that he lacks grit. ?uestlove who co-produced the album helped to change that. And as smooth as John is, he is very socially conscious, and you can definitely hear grit and fury in the cover of Bill Withers' "I Can't Write Left Handed." Lots of the songs are pretty obscure, I'd chalk that up to ?uestlove, who probably chose the songs. My one criticism: why have guest MCs, even such great ones as Common and C.L. Smooth when Black Thought is in the group (he's only on two songs). Anyway, I really dig this album.

Fistful Of Mercy is a new group that features one of my favorite artists, Ben Harper. The band also features Joseph Arthur and Dhani Harrison. They just released their debut album, As I Call You Down. It isn't my favorite thing Ben has done, but it has some really great songs. I recently filmed a performance by the group, I'll be posting a song soon.

Finally, the new duo album by Elton John and Leon Russell, The Union (produced by - of course! - T-Bone Burnett!). Leon was a huge influence on Elton, and Elton reached out to him a while back. Discovering that Leon wasn't in a great place, and bummed that he seemed to be forgotten, Elton invited him to do an album together. It shows what a giving and generous guy Elton is, despite the whole "tantrums and tiaras" thing. So that makes me want to like it. I think it is his best album since 2001's Songs From The West Coast (one of my favorite Elton albums), but not quite as good as that one. Still, there are some great songs, including the first single "If It Wasn't For Bad" (written by Leon) and "Hey Ahab" (written by Elton and Bernie Taupin).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Yes, it's true. In the above video, Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello (who of course also records as The Nightwatchman, is a member of Street Sweeper Social Club and a former member of Audioslave) explains how Bruce Springsteen's "Born In The U.S.A." influenced Rage's "Killing In The Name" (yes, the "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me" song). He's talking to Jay Weinberg, son of E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg. This is part of an E Street Radio roundtable discussion that is airing on the channel this week: I was lucky enough to be in the SIRIUS XM studios in New York (Tom Morello was in the Los Angeles studio).

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


2009 was a great year for Beatles fans: it saw the long-overdue remastering of the band's catalog. Also, their mono recordings were available on CD for the first time. Plus, there was their edition of the popular video game Rock Band.

2010 isn't going to top that. But there are some cool releases from The Beatles and their members that we'll be talking about tomorrow morning on SIRIUS XM OutQ's Morning Jolt with Larry Flick.

First off, the reissues of the "Red" and "Blue" albums. Released in 1973, "Red," or 1962-1966, is a double album which includes their biggest hits from the first half of their career. "Blue," or 1967-1970, is a double album that covers the rest of their career. My parents had "The Blue Album," and I still have that copy.  That's one of the first albums I remember listening to. There is nothing on "Red" or "Blue" that wasn't reissued last year, but for people looking to start getting into the band, these are great places to start (there's also the single CD best of 1, but that's a bit too short for my tastes). Both collections hit stores next week.

Out now is The 4 Complete Ed Sullivan Shows Featuring The Beatles 2 DVD set which I just wrote about. Of course the highlights of these are The Beatles world-changing performances. But it is interesting to watch the rest of the shows, to see what passed for entertainment back then.  I don't mean that in a snobby way: it's just that, compared to the rest of the entertainers on Sullivan, The Beatles were totally wild and radical.  These days, The Beatles are part of the cultural language.  But watching these shows, you get a better sense for why they had the effect that they had.

This past weekend, the whole world seemed to be celebrating the life and music of John Lennon, as he would have turned 70 on Saturday. The official John Lennon page on YouTube featured video messages from Ringo Starr, Aerosmith, DMC, Jeff Bridges, David Gray and many others, plus lots of non-celebs, just fans. And of course, his catalog has just been reissued, including a box set.  But what interested me the most is the new version of 1980's Double Fantasy, which has the original album, and a "stripped down" version of the album, kind of un-re-mixed by Yoko Ono and Jack Douglas (who produced the original).

Meanwhile, Paul McCartney is reissuing what is arguably his finest post-Beatles work Wings' 1973 album Band On The Run. It comes out November 2, and will have extra discs with bonus tracks and a DVD with video footage from the era.

The Beatles have long been holdouts in the digital music marketplace: you still can't download thier music (legally) anywhere. But they are thawing a bit: they are going to reissue the non-Beatles Apple Records catalog on October 25, including music by Badfinger, James Taylor (his first album) and Billy Preston.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Another of the greats has left this world. This morning we all found out about the passing of one of the great soul singers ever, Solomon Burke.

There are plenty of news stories discussing the legacy of the man.  I don't remember when I first became aware of him.  I feel like I've always known the song "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love," which is just one of those immortal songs from the early rock and roll/R&B era.

At some point in the '90s when I was getting into the roots of R&B I became a fan and picked up one of his greatest hits albums, which is indeed pretty great. Dude was a preacher and a radio host, and you can hear that in "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love." It's also interesting that some of his early hits were country songs, including his first one, "Just Out Of Reach." 

What I found most inspiring is how his career was (seemingly) revived by his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. Solomon had been eligible for induction from day one, it took him like 15 years to finally get voted in.  But it really revitalized him: the next year, he released Don't Give Up On Me on Fat Possum Records, produced by the great Joe Henry. I don't know if that album was in the works before the induction, but his induction seemed to give him a bit of momentum.  Instead of being the usual "all star collabs" type deal, this album featured lots of amazing songwriters writing songs just for the album. Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits and even Bob Dylan donated original tunes. The album is a masterpiece and I'm not the only one who thinks so: it won a Grammy but also was named Mojo magazine's album of the year. I'm serious, check it out. I enjoy it even more than the greatest hits album, and that's what I find so inspiring about the man: he was vital up 'til the very end. (In fact, I named him one of my Artists of the '00s). I've enjoyed his subsuquent albums: 2005's Make Due With What You Got (produced by Don Was), 2006's Nashville (produced by Buddy Miller), 2008's Like A Fire (produced by Steve Jordan), and Nothing's Impossible, which came out earlier this year and which was produced by the late great Willie Mitchell. They are all well worth checking out, although I prefer Don't Give Up On Me. How many 70 year old artists leave this world with five straight great albums in a row?  That's pretty inspiring, and a great way to go out.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


You can see what they saw, but you can't really feel what they felt. I can't imagine any cultural happening that could equal the excitement of that very first Beatles performance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. The world was a different place, most people had never seen a rock band. There were three or four channels (which signed off at the end of the night). It's been said before, but The Beatles weren't just a band, they were a cultural revolution. And by the way, I'm saying this as someone who was born five years after the fact. But ask anyone who was, say, seven years old or older when The Beatles played Sullivan, they'll probably not only remember it, but how it changed everything.

I was glad to find out that Universal (not Apple Corp) was putting out a 2 DVD set including all four episodes that The Beatles appeared on: February 4, 16 and 23 1964 and September 12, 1965. It doesn't just include The Beatles' performances, it includes the entire broadcasts for all four shows, commericals included.  In a way, I just want to see The Beatles. On the other hand, it is so interesting to see what else passed as entertainment back then: acrobats, magicians, puppets.  It's quaint, but you watch it and realize just how radical The Beatles were (which is easy to forget these days, when they are still so ubiquitous, 40 years after their breakup. Some of the other performances are of note: comedian Soupy Sales (whose sons, Hunt and Tony, would years later play in Iggy Pop's backing band, and then join David Bowie in Tin Machine), Frank Gorshin (who went on to play The Riddler on the Batman TV kitch-fest) and Cab Calloway.

But of course The Beatles' performances are what you want to watch for, and they aren't just intersting as a historical document, you can feel the joy and excitement, even now. A couple of weeks ago, after a blackout, we had power but not cable. Instead of watching whatever was on TV that night, I popped in disc 1 and watched the performance that I'd seen clips of umpteen times and was blown away.  Maybe not blown away like those lucky 73 million people who watched live in 1964, but blown away nonetheless.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


For those of you who are new to No Expiration, every Wednesday morning at about 9 am ET(ish), I go on the SIRIUS XM OutQ show The Morning Jolt with Larry Flick (co-hosted by comedian Keith Price) to talk about music. Sometimes I have a theme, and this week, I have a loose one: artists who hooked up with big names to produce their latest album.

Neil Young's Le Noise sees him moving outside his usual circle of collaborators to work with Daniel Lanois. It is Neil's weirdest album in well over twenty years.  It isn't one of my top ten albums by Neil, but I'm starting to dig it, and at least it is better than his last one, Fork In The Road.

Mavis Staples continues her streak of great albums (all on the very cool Anti- label) with You Are Not Alone, which was produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. He wrote the tile track, which I have found to be very moving. I think the album is one of the best things he's ever done (and it holds up to her incredible body of work as well), and I think the title track is actually the best song he has ever written. It is my favorite of the three albums I'm discussing this week.

Pete Yorn hired Pixies frontman Frank Black to produce his new album, Pete Yorn. You can definitely hear the influence sonically, and it is a cool album.  When it comes to Pete Yorn, though, I feel kind of stuck on his first album, musicforthemorningafter. Still, this one definitely adds some more classic songs to his cannon, and he is certainly an artist who is going to be around for a long time. This is probably his best album since the debut.


I thought it was interesting when I heard that Pete Yorn tapped Frank Black to produce his new album. Pete is a fan of rock music by Bruce, and also post-punk/goth stuff like The Cure and The Smiths, as well as Bowie, so it makes sense that he digs The Pixies, who are sort of at the center of all those bands.

From the first few moments of opening track/first single "Precious Stone," you think it's like a Pixies tribute (interestingly, the production is cited to "Black Francis," the name Black used in The Pixies). It's a great single, and it seems like Pete's albums always have a few.

I've always rooted for Pete Yorn, he seems like a really cool guy, and he doesn't pander. I just don't know if he's ever equaled the imact and greatness of his debut, 2001's musicforthemorningafter. I love "Rock Crowd," which is like a love letter to his fans.  Kind of the opposite of songs like "Turn The Page" and "The Load Out." He's basically saying that this is what he's always wanted, and he's glad he has it.

Pete has often been compared to Bruce Springsteen - partially because he covers Bruce all the time, and also because he's from New Jersey.  He reminds me a bit more of Tom Petty: less political, less anthemic, and a bit more low key of a dude. And like Petty, he's slowly building a repertoire of great songs (although I don't think he's released his Damn The Torpedoes yet). And like Petty, he's influenced by The Byrds and their former members: Pete Yorn ends with a cover of Gram Parsons' lovely "Wheels."


Mavis Staples' album You Are Not Alone is one of the albums I was really looking forward to this year, and it doesn't disappoint. I loved her last two albums, 2007's We'll Never Turn Back (produced by Ry Cooder) and 2008's Live: Hope At The Hideout.

You Are Not Alone was produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, and I think it holds up to some of his finest work.   The title track, which he wrote, is I think his greatest song.  Listening to it brings a tear to my eye. Obviously, he wrote it a while ago, but hearing it just makes me think of Tyler Clementi and other young men and women who despair because they feel like they don't fit in.

That's the thing about a great song, it could have been written at anytime, about anything.  And it seems to fit many different situations.  But I think Mavis sings it better than Tweedy ever could (with all due respect).

Anyway.  The rest of the album has updates on some Staples Singers songs, and an incredible cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Wrote A Song For Everyone." Now, you know I love me some Creedence, but I'll say that her version might be better than the original.  It's a wonderful album, if you love rootsy gospel music, you need to check this one out.


I am still digesting Neil Young's Le Noise. It's a solo album in the literal sense, most of the songs are just Neil and an electric guitar, no one else.  Sometimes there's keyboards, sometimes acoustic guitars, but everything is played by Neil, but producer Daniel Lanois messes with the "noise" as well. This is one that doesn't go down easily, it's his strangest album since 1987's Life.  Maybe 1986's Landing On Water. Or 1983's Trans, which is probably his weirdest album, and one of the weirdest of all time.

I am starting to really get into the songs on this album.  Some of the hype leading up to the album has been a bit over the top - he's been playing these songs on his solo (not acoustic) tour.  The songs are good, they are stronger than much of his other recent albums that I enjoyed, 2007's Chrone Dreams II, 2005's Prairie Wind and 2000's Silver and Gold. "Love And War" actually is a solo acoustic song, and is pretty powerful, and says more than his more recent reactionary stuff like "Let's Roll" and Greendale. "Sign Of Love" reminds me of some of the sentiments on Havest Moon - I love the line "when we both have silver hair, and a little less time, but there still are roses on the vine, you can take it as a sign of love." 

It's funny that Daniel Lanois produced this album, I've always kind of wanted to hear him produce a Neil album, and I think Neil needed an "outsider" this time around.  All of his latest have been proudced with longtime friends like Niko Bolas, the late L.A. Johnson and the late Ben Keith.  I guess I was hoping for a sort of revival, like what Lanois did with Bob Dylan (twice, on 1989's Oh Mercy and 1997's Time Out Of Mind).  In some ways it does do that, and in some ways it is as risky as U2's Achtung Baby (which Lanois also worked on). I'll admit that I don't think that it works quite as well as those albums, but I'm really developing a taste for it. Ask me again what I think at the end of the year, but I think I'm into this album.