Ok! I have officially crossed the line from just listening to
music to making music! (Although for the time being, I have to use
the term loosely.) Here's the brief history of this grand metamorphosis:
If you know me, or have looked at this page before, you might have noticed
that I'm heavy into the Presidents of the United States of America (PUSA).
Recently my brother loaned me an old Yamaha Acoustic guitar for me to knock
around on. Well, I was doing ok on the thing, but not getting very
far. Then one day I went to a music store and purchased songbooks
for PUSA's first two CD's. The music shows the guitars, as played
by PUSA, with string deficiencies and non-standard tuning. Well,
that night I yanked 3 strings off of the old flattop, and there it was,
an official 'GuitBass'. After a few weeks of this I was ready for
the real thing. I quickly found out that electric guitars were not
cheap. After scouring a few local music shops and even a few pawn
shops, I found the place for me: Atomic
Music in College Park, MD. This place has around 300 guitars
ranging from around $100 on up, all used. I took a few laps around
the place and found the Guitar for me.
is a Squier II, (by Fender) Stratocaster, made in Korea. Now most
real guitar players probably wouldnt even consider this guitar even suitable
for smashing onstage, but I had to keep things inexpensive. It is
in great shape, the neck feels nice, but as far as Stratocaster goes, it
is a little odd. It has the proper body and neck shape, the neck
is a one piece maple, and the body appears to be (ugh) fiberglass? over
plywood. It has what Fender calls the 'Carved Top Strat' look (except
no wood grain, just solid red body). That is, no pickguard, and two
single coil pickups (neck and center) and a humbucker pickup at the bridge.
The knobs are the chrome dome type normally found on Telecasters.
It makes a great Guitbass though. I'm busy working my way through my favorites
from PUSA's first CD ("Dune Buggy", "Peaches", "Feather Pluckin") and am
trying to figure out "Video Killed the Radio Star" (this one isn't in either
of my trusted music books).
This is a must have for all hard core PUSA fans. It includes
many hard to get B-sides, some previously unreleased stuff, and a bunch
of live tracks. Highlights are: "Volcano (4-Track Version)", "Japan",
"Ca Plane Pour Moi", and "Twig (Semi-Acoustic version)".
This was a PUSA side track. Chris Ballew and Dave Dederer (PUSA's
Basitar and Guitbass players, respectively) credit Mark Sandman of Morphine
(2 String slide Bass) for their bizarre string impaired instrumentation
and tuning. I had also heard a number of the tracks on the Longboard
Magazine Powerglide video. This music is dark, but swingy.
Not nearly as fun inspiring as PUSA, but gets points for me because it
doesn't sound like everything else out there. Favorite tracks: "Buena",
"Cure for Pain", and "Mary Won't You Call My Name."
As mentioned above, this is Chris Ballew's, (formerly of PUSA) new
solo project. If you go to the Giraffes' Home Page, you can get all
the bizarre (and ficticious) background information on the 'band'.
Bottom line, if you like Beatle-esque 70's ish music, you'll like this.
Chris gets beaucoups points on originality. This has very little
similarities to PUSA stuff, except for the bizarre lyrics including animal/bug
references. Many of the tunes are very infectious. I'm having
trouble getting "Hopeless (Rub it In)"out of my head. My
current standout tracks are: "Comin' Around", "Brain on Yer Tung", "Lonely
Chicken", and "Hopeless (Rub it In)".
Ran out to Best Buy to grab this on release day. I'm glad to
report that getting my hands on this CD was much more simple than getting
my hands on The Giraffes! Sadly, this is the last of the CD's
to be produced by PUSA. Although it has a hodge-podge feel to it,
it is not a pile of crap thrown together to fulfill a contract. Most
PUSA fans (and other newbies brought in by "Video Killed the Radio Star")
will love this CD. Below are my takes on each of the songs.
Also included are Quicktime (.mov) files for the
"Love Delicatessen" - This
is my favorite track on the CD. The lyrics are hilarious, and the
guitar work is great. I love the chord progressions. There
are actually some solos complete with keyboards! Towards the end
it sounds like someone snuck in a 6 string. This song is four minutes
and twelve seconds long (an opus by PUSA standards.)
"Video Killed the Radio Star" - This is the version from The Wedding
Singer Soundtrack. This is probably my favorite version of this song.
Compared to the live version on the Australian "Dune Buggy" and the studio
version from Rarities.
"Mobile Home" - This song
is along the same vein as "Love Delicatessen", but with a faster, kinda
finger snapping bluesy beat. The guys really get going during the
instrumental with yes... more guitar solo work.
"Japan" Same as on Rarities, a good straightforward PUSA song.
(Rocking beat, catchy hook, funny lyrics.)
"Sunshine" - An acoustic
number that certainly fits in the "Silly Love Song" category. With
an emphasis on silly.
"Back Porch (Live)" - A great live version of this song also found
on the Limited Edition Bonus CD that came free with PUSA II at Best Buy.
Great ad-lib banter by Chris towards the end with Dave's guitar screaming
in the background.
"Man (Opposable Thumb)" - From the Good Burger soundtrack. A rocking
tune, starts with some Peter Gunn like guitars, then gets faster, and never
lets up. Good in the lyrical category, all about the evolution of
man.. (...all you could manage is a boner, and your opposable thumb...)
"Tiki Lounge God" - Also from the PUSA II Bonus CD (see "Back Porch").
A cool lounged-out mellow version of "Tiki God", lets the vocals and guitar
work come forward.
"Teenage Girl" - PUSA does
Beach Boys. Great!!!
"Slip Away" - More standard
PUSA. (Rocking beat, catchy hook, funny lyrics.)
"Tremolo Blooz" - Can be found on the "Mach 5" single. A cool
country sounding song, complete with banjos. Imagine a cross between
"Back Porch" and "Froggie".
"Cleveland Rocks" - So does PUSA! From the Drew Carey show.
I liked the original (Ian Hunter), and love the cover.
"Lump (Live)" - A cool recording of a now PUSA staple. Has
some funny conversation in the beginning and the Weird Al ending "And that's
all I have to say. How 'bout that?"
"Hot Carl"(Hidden Track)
- Can be found at the end of the "Lump" track. "Lump" ends at 2:55,
"Hot Carl" starts at 8:00 and runs for fifteen seconds. Basically
a few cords, and repeat "Hot Carl" 6 times. Makes you wonder who
Well, he's back, but I think he should have stayed away. I used
to think that you could count on Clapton for something good, but not so.
Granted the music is OK, and he really gets bluesy but....
Get rid of the damn drum machine! And wake up!!!!! This
CD puts me to sleep. The biggest disappointment for me was the remake/ruining
of "Circus." If you saw the MTV Unplugged video, you heard a good
version of this song. It is a very moving song that is based in Clapton's
loss of his son. The version on Pilgrim has no soul.