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Money Talks: AC/DC and Wal-Mart collaborate for profit's sake

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, October 24, 2008 12:34pm | Post a Comment
hair metal rockers Pretty Boy FloydOne of the best things about working at Amoeba Music is all the stories you get to hear. It seems everyone has at least one really great story starring some celebrity or other. Add to that the countless daily recounts of brushes with the bizarre (I'm sure each location has it's own special blend of resident and transient "street life" enthusiasts) and the many stories from the road told by those touring musicians Amoeba frequently fosters; the odd life-altering event/near death experience sort of yarn is spun as often as are the wheels of the gossip wagon. All this and more than enough stupid jokes and "inappropourri" to swell one's ears and imagination for days. Some of the stories I've heard will stay with me forever and some of the story tellers I'd swear have lived multiple lives.

One of my favorite co-workers I like to trade stories with at Amoeba is dear to me for his deep appreciation of all kinds of heavy metal, especially glam/hair metal. Though he's a bit older than me, I'll never forget the day we bonded over our knowledge of obscure (read: tragic) hair metal bands. Floodgates opened and we discussed everything from Bang Tango's singular hit, "Someone Like You," to Pretty Boy Floyd's album Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz and their singular saving grace (ultimately, their hair). Clearly we could go on for days as, it seemed to me anyway, I had no one else at work with whom I could discuss late eighties Hollywood glitter rock and still feel comfortable with myself afterwards. 

white rain shampoo One of my favorite stories this person shared with me involves Warrant, a band that almost always suffered comparison to Poison yet never eclipsed, or even slightly reached, Poison's level of glam-rock stardom. Perhaps that explains why my friend saw them playing in a crappy night club in Fresno. The story is short and amounts to this: at sometime during the gig he stole backstage and lifted a number of items from Warrant, namely a bottle of White Rain shampoo. Now, maybe it's not that funny to everyone, but I clutched my gut in laughter upon hearing this. White Rain! The bottom shelf of hair products! These glamorous guys, who obviously pride themselves on their hair, couldn't get it together to get some Panteen Pro-V or Mane and Tail (being the show ponies they were). I have to admit that I was and still am inclined to think the worst of Warrant -- I was never a fan, not even a little, of their music and their frontman, a man called Jani Lane, frightened me in an Edgar Winter way. To me their music was a tepid, obvious attempt at following Poison's lead (and so was Jani Lane's romance with"spokesmodel" Bobbi Brown, who happened to be Poison frontman Bret Michael's ex-girlfriend) and it was even rumored that Warrant's two guitarists Erik Turner and Joey Allen hadn't played even a shred of a note on Warrant's debut album though they received credit for it. To top it all off, the most annoying girl in my school, who was also my best friends' neighbor and confidante, loved them and Warrant quickly became the crux of our rivalry. And so the very thought of Warrant roughing it on the road with dollar store bought White Rain set me snickering. It was too perfect. And to think that Warrant's debut album was titled DTrauma Kamp irty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich-- hardly.
 
Later on I got to thinking about all those wanna-be rock stars featured in Penelope Spheeris' documentary Decline of the Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years and my laughing slowly subsided into a kind of internal choke. Remembering all those faces staring directly at the camera proclaiming, "Oh yes, I'm gonna make big one day. Definitely. Without a doubt," really hit home. I wonder just how many rockers made the pilgrimage to Hollywood with a mind to find fame and fortune. I thought of my brother (pictured second from the right with his band Trauma Kamp) and how he moved to Hollywood around that time with only what I can imagine to be the same dream of making it big in the music business (and let me tell you, not only did he survive the strip, he's got endless yarns of killer stories about the madness that is, er was, er probably still is, the Hollywood rock scene). Suddenly I was furious at my friend. How could he steal such vital items from a hair metal band on the road like he's stealing food stamps from the needy? The ridiculousness of my anger started me laughing again and I giggled my way over to my dusty video shelf to look for my copy of The Metal Years, only to find it missing, stolen perhaps by a fellow coworker and metal enthusiast whose name just happens to rhyme with the latter syllable of the word Warrant.
AC/DC dollar bill from Money Talks
A few weeks later I'd find myself hungry again for a viewing of The Metal Years after being asked for the umpteenth time when Amoeba's gonna have the new AC/DC album, Black Ice. In answering this oft repeated query, I've noticed that customers seeking this release get a cool, terse response: it's a Wal-Mart exclusive. Now, I am as courteous as the next person when manning the info counter and exclusive sales of new releases are nothing new in music retail, it's just that I find it very hard to swallow that a retailer that once used to ban all releases that required a Parental Advisory sticker, a retailer that seemingly backed the PMRC (the Parents Music Resource Center, a comPMRC: Parents Music Resource Center founded by Tipper Goremittee founded in 1985 by Tipper Gore and three other highly connected political ladies, pictures right) in their endeavors to protect and uphold the morals of America by stifling first amendment rights for recording artists of every genre, a retailer whose name used to be synonymous with right wing, so-called "bible-thumping" Christians could ever, ever sell, exclusively, the new, long awaited record by heavy metal bad boys AC/DC. Maybe the lyrics to AC/DC's hit single "Money Talks" from their Razor's Edge album released in 1990 could clue us in on this retail gaffe: "come on come on love me for the money/ come on come on listen to the money talk." Yeah, and the only way anyone can hop on AC/DC's "Rock N' Roll Train," the first single from Black Ice, is to slum it on down to Wal-Mart 'n' buy it there, or, as it turns out, Sam's Club is selling it too, but only to those who have a membership of course. I understand that a large part of American rockers live in places where Wal-Mart is the only place they can shop for music and I've been reminded repeatedly that times are tough all over, yet BillboardRock Band video game reports that copies of Black Ice are "flying off the shelves" in Wal-Mart and Sam's Club -- money talks indeed -- and I can't help feeling like the "understanding" between Capitol Records and Wal-Mart is a last ditch effort to make mega-bucks on a new release while the mega-bucks can still be made. At least while Wal-Mart is "rolling back the prices" on items like toilet paper you can get the new AC/DC album used at Amoeba for a fraction of what they're flying off the shelves for in the 'burbs. This just in: New York Times reports that Wal-Mart now owns rights to the new AC/DC-themed Rock Band video game, "AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack." I wonder what they'll own rights to next. 

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Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs

Posted by Whitmore, September 20, 2008 02:38pm | Post a Comment

In celebration of 50 years of its Hot 100 chart, music industry’s Billboard Magazine has collected its Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs. The list collects the top 100 songs from August 1958 through July 2008 -- and the songs' slots are allotted based on their actual performance on the weekly chart, with an inverse point system figuring into the ranking (i.e. weeks at No. 1 earn greater value than weeks at No. 100).

Lists of the greatest this, or best that, or most influential whatever always irk the crap out of me, though I am perpetually intrigued. Is Citizen Kane or Gone with the Wind the greatest film of all time? I don’t know, but an evening on the couch with some popcorn and a beer watching the Big Lebowski is a hell of a lot more fun. Is Jimmy Stewart the greatest movie star of all time? Of course not, it has to be Cary Grant or maybe Humphrey Bogart, at least that’s what I think, but according to the experts, I am wrong.

Anyway, Drum Roll please … the Number One Single of all time …
Chubby Checker’s “The Twist.”

Now I have to admit I was somewhat stunned to see “The Twist” up there up on top, all by itself. But then again, "The Twist" is the only song ever to go to #1 on two separate chart runs. The first time was on Sept. 19, 1960 for one week, but after Chubby Checker made an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in late 1961, “The Twist” once again hit the spot, this time for two weeks starting on Jan. 13, 1962. It also set a record for the most weeks, 39, on the Hot 100 by a number one song, a record it held until UB40's “Red Red Wine” lasted 40 weeks in 1988.

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