Shut up and Listen: A column at gunpoint

Howdy folks, it’s Bryan Bishop. Well, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. “Howdy” wouldnt’ be fair to the people who consistantly read my column… I’m more popular in blue states and England. So scrap the howdy.

I was sitting at my desk, dozing in an out of sleep, occassionally waking to try and beat my pinball score, when Jeff Martin walked in, and began brandishing a gun at me. He’d been drinking heavily, as I could tell by the beer bottle he’d stuffed down the front of his chaps. Yes, chaps. His team had won at the rodeo, and afterward, it appeared he’d been making rather merry. On his stumbling walk back to his apartment, he’d broken into someone’s apartment to check his email, and seen I had not written my column. Needless to say, the furious Canadian made tracks to my dwelling…

So here we are. To quote the wierd Nazi guy from Raiders of the Lost Ark… what shall we talk about?

How about sampling?

A few years ago, Will Smith (a character actor who’s had a few minor roles in a few films) came out with an album. Yes, the man behind “Willenium” and “Wild Wild West” decided to give us another hit, this one “Miami”. You know.

“Party in the city when the heat is on!
All night on the beach ’til the break of dawn!
I’m goin’ to Miami… anna me o maggi aggi!”

Or something like that. Well, the song, like most music nowadays, featured… sampling. When some talentless yahoo needs to make a quick buck, he samples a song done by artists, shouts during it, and sells it. You can see this everywhere… Eminem totally raping Aerosmith’s “Dream On”, Piff Doobie or whatever you call him now DESTROYING “I’ll be Watching You” by the Police… but I have to thank Will Smith.

The song he samples is “And the Beat goes on” by Whispers, which contains one of the COOLEST backbeats in the history of cool backbeats, not to mention some okay lyrics (better than Will Smith wheezing like a pervert over the women of Miami, that’s for sure.

That’s why I’m inviting you to do me a favor. I want you to find the following songs, and compare them to the (real) music, which they sampled and totally screwed up.

“Miami” by Will Smith / “And the Beat goes On” by Whispers

“I’ll be Missing You” by Puff Daddy / “I’ll be Watching You” by the Police

“Out of Touch Techno remix by some asshole” / “Out of Touch” by Hall and Oates

“Men in Black” by Will Smith/ “Forget me Nots” by La Bouche

There, that should be enough. I’d seriously have more, but… yeah, Jeff’s getting antsy. Better keep moving.

I really don’t believe in structure, and this week has been a little rough, so I’m going to keep up this theme of music, since I’m on it. In fact… let me make a suggestion for your listening pleasure. And what’s the best way to do this? Why, plugging a CD of course. And best of all, these guys don’t sample… they make real music. The sort of stuff that rappers will be sampling years from now.

“Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” by the Flaming Lips came out in 2001 (or 2002, I dunno). The band is mildly successful, with a distinct sound that dooms them to obscurity in these days of crappy, manufactured rap or pop. (Drop it like it’s Hoooot, Drop it like it’s hoooot….). You probably best remember them (if you never picked up this CD) as the band that played “Bad Days” on the Batman Forever Soundtrack.

“Yoshimi” is an album that grows on you. I use iTunes, and futiley rate each song as I listen to it… most of the songs on this CD I’ve listened to 30 to 40 times in a little over a month, in addition to rating them during a spate of boredom. Check out these facts on the album:

Track One: Fight Test
Personal Plays: 38
Ranking: *****

A mellow batttle song if there ever was one. Forceful, strange, and wonderful. I suppose this tells the story of a young man who backed out of tough decisions, until there were no more decisions to back away from, and he realized he’d wasted everything. The last line… “The Test is Over… F.” says it all.

Track Two: One more Robot/ Sympathy 3000-21
Personal Plays: 42
Ranking: *****

Beautiful, eerie, transluscent in meaning. On the surface, it’s the story of a robot slowly becoming human. But beyond that, it speaks volumes on the nature of humanity itself.

Track Three: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (1)
Personal plays: 30
Ranking: ****

The name says it all.

Track Four: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2)
Personal plays: 30
Ranking: **

An instrumental that just comes across as dorky and screechy. But better stuff is on the way…

Track Five: In the Morning of Magicians
Personal Plays: 30
Ranking: *****

An epic, to say the least. Not sure what its about (I don’t think it fits into the “concept album” handbag), but it’s definitely telling a story that is absolutely glorious. “In the morning I’m awake, and I could not remember/what is love and what is hate? The calculations entered…”

Track Six: Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell
Personal Plays: 28
Ranking: ***

Slow, sexy, driving… not up to par with the song before it or after it, but still a hella cool song to play while driving around. Although a little wimpy at times.

Track Seven: Are you a Hypnotist?
Personal Plays: 41
Ranking: *****

A song about enigmatic people who play games with those of us who are paying them attention. Something wonderful, clouded.

Track Eight: It’s Summertime (Orange Throbbing Pallbearers)
Personal Plays: 41
Ranking: *****

Originally, my least favorite track on the album, now one of my most favorite songs ever. It’s a beautiful ballad about grief during a happy season… very close to heartbreaking.

Track Nine: Do you Realize?
Personal Plays: 33
Ranking: ***

A little hokey for my taste… but still beautiful to listen to, if not to think about.

Track Ten: All we Have is Now
Personal Plays: 32
Ranking: ****

A really cool song, about a man who is visited by himself… from the future. He learns his time is limited, and that all he has with the people he loves around him is… now.

Track Eleven: Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon
Personal Plays: 32
Ranking: ****

An instrumental to end things… a really cool, “we kicked ass” sort of feel to it. Definitely check this track out… you won’t be disappointed.

Well, while I await my free Flaming Lips memorabilia, it appears Jeff Martin has passed out. I’ll take this opportunity to sneak out before he wakes up… but let me leave you with a few passing words of wisdom….

“Drop it. Like it’s Hot.”
-Snoop Dogg