Five From the Shelf Friday – 2/10/23

Music is one of the most important commodities we have in human life. It’s always been a major part of mine, from childhood to graying middle-aged man. I spent 16 years as a music journalist and dabbled in drumming and percussion, though I tanked on the latter efforts. In my time in the scene, I covered metal, punk, Goth and electronic music on the road, interviewing musicians, reviewing new album and video releases and snapping live concert photos. What many people never realized is how eclectic and diverse my music tastes are. I was always proud to connect alternative rock to metal or country to punk, funk music in hip hop and EDM (formerly known as techno) in a review whenever I heard it. I’m so across the board with my passion for music, I’m my own best friend when having a listening session, since I hop genres faster than you can say “Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto” without the synth manipulation.

I’m going to try you all out with a little weekly exercise and see if it resonates. I’m calling it “Five From the Shelf Friday,” where I grab five albums at random from my collection and briefly chat about them. Many will be recordings you’re familiar with, some likely not. Some will be dust-offs of albums I haven’t listened to in forever. My library is vast, though sadly purged down from when I used to hoard my freebie hard copy CDs, vinyl, DVDs and Blu Rays from the record labels and I had a literal labyrinth of shelves to store all of that media. My fiancée, TJ, would never have agreed to marry me if all of it came, lol….

Regardless, I have maintained a library in the thousands, so let’s have a go here and let me know, readers, if you’d like to see this run as a continuous segment of “Roads Lesser Traveled.”

The B-52’s – self-titled

No doubt every wedding, company social event and New Year’s party you’ve ever attended, you’ve been subjected to “Love Shack” by The B-52’s. For me, that song’s grown cringeworthy, along with “Roam” from the band’s later year, commercially successful Cosmic Thing. A far, more palatable stretch to the common ear than what The B-52’s began with on their 1979 self-titled debut. Considered a new wave pioneer, I always agreed with that assessment, but I liken the early B-52’s to The Cramps and Southern Culture On the Skids in kindred spirit. Mostly in the way each band cooks up a chili con carnage ambience behind their core of twang. Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson’s run amok screeches, wails, giggles, ooh-wahs and audile lunacy are tough to digest if you just want to stay neo-groovy in a humdrum love shack that’s lost much of its luster from overplay. “Rock Lobster” is one of the most kickass bits of surf-inspired nuttiness anyone’s ever attempted. As a kid, I actually thought The Munsters had recorded a song when I’d heard “Rock Lobster” the first time. True story. You can’t go wrong with The B-52s oddball but piledriving hike on the Peter Gunn theme with “Planet Claire.” Only Devo one-upped them in that regard.

D’AngeloBrown Sugar

Modern hip hop has lost much of its hipness and its soul, though I do try to dig for diamonds in the new world rap order. My son turned me on to Childish Gambino, 80purppp and the late XXXTentacion. I turned him onto The Jackson Five when he was a child, and I’ve dropped jazz, funk, soul and early hip hop on him over the years. He’s finding his own way in music, and he loves to try me out constantly until one of his jams stick between us. He is finally starting to explore 90s hip hop, which had me steering straight for one of the lost children of classic hip hop, D’Angelo. This dude was a cornrowed, shredded sex symbol back in the day who dropped only a couple albums, but damn, what gems Brown Sugar and Voodoo were. Inspired by Prince (my all-time favorite musician), D’Angelo had a pure knack for blending funk, jazz and hip hop. Strong beats, sometimes with actual drum kits, funky waves and bass that never blew out your subwoofers like today’s rap does. D’Angelo was smoother than silk and deserves a revisit by the hip hop community. Jonz in my bonz, baby…

Hall & OatesUltimate Daryl Hall + John Oates

Rock and soul brothers to the nth power, Hall & Oates were dynamic superstars of their time from the 1970s to late 80s, dropping one megahit after another. Anyone who loves these guys but only want a greatest hits package has had to settle for Best of compilations that were always missing a key hit or two. Not this one. Everything’s on this double album, which unfortunately means it gets stuffed with mediocre filler fluff (wincing at you, “Las Vegas Turnaround” and “Possession Obsession”) and cover tunes you may find yourself skipping over. As a child, I daydreamed to “Sara Smile,” “She’s Gone” and “Rich Girl” when they were on both AM and FM radio. I still feel that magic without the static, listening to them in this format. “Private Eyes” became a 45 platter that stayed in my stylus rotation forever. The beat, man, it’s all about the beat. Even today, I can’t help but back up “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” a few times in a sitting, it’s still that seductive. Same for “Say It Isn’t So” and the blissfully corny “Kiss is On My List.” Daryl Hall, you magnificent bastard, you might have the silkiest chops a white guy ever possessed, and the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve appreciated John Oates’ gnarly backslides.

SepulturaChaos A.D.

I’ve interviewed Max Cavalera a few times and he is one the kindest people I’ve ever met. I’ve also interviewed his brother, Iggor as well as Andreas Kisser and Derrick Green from Sepultura, one of the most important metal bands ever assembled. Sadly, the Cavaleras have long since departed, while Sepultura continues to make innovative metal music. I’ve also had the pleasure of hanging on the tour bus for a long spell with Max’s wife, Gloria Cavalera, one of the most brilliant business minds out there. Chaos A.D. was a flip to the script for Sepultura when it came out in 1993. Sepultura being one of the fastest thrash bands around when they started, Chaos A.D. bravely slowed things down with a few thrashers in the mix, instead focusing on grooves, slams, riffs and fusing into the bombastic mix tribal percussion. This inspirational clubbing march motif ushering the game-changing Roots album thereafter. For all the changes, I maintain Chaos A.D. is Sepultura’s heaviest album and it’s inarguably one of the crown jewels of the genre. It remains a scathing indictment against political corruption, social injustice and its combat against racism still haunts true 30 years later. I play Chaos A.D. a hell of a lot and I still get fired up by the title track and “Territory.” Ah, hell, I lose my shit with the entire album. Iggor’s pounding rhythms and blasting tom-snare rolls are incomparable.

Junkie XL Mad Max: Fury Road soundtrack

I’ll make this short and sweet. I am a junkie (pun intended) for film scores and soundtracks. They fuel my writing. Tom Holkenborg, aka Junkie XL, has a major place in my heart with his scores for Godzilla vs. Kong and Mad Max: Fury Road. The latter film being praised by critics as one of the greatest action films of all-time, I agree a hundred percent. Junkie XL’s score is one of the major elements why Fury Road is a modern masterpiece. The collapsing drums and ripping guitars of “Blood Bag” sends me into pure ecstasy. If I had a workout playlist, it would start with this.

–Ray Van Horn, Jr.

22 thoughts on “Five From the Shelf Friday – 2/10/23

  1. Most definitely keep this in! I can segue between the nostalgic and newfound loves and back again…

    I agree with B52s — they were best when they weren’t shooting for big commercial success. While I don’t much care for their later material, I have a not-so-secret crush on Kate and her duo with Iggy Pop on “Candy” made up for “Love Shack”.

    I have to admit that Hall and Oats are one of those duos that had the earworm down pat for a spell. Kind of like Barry Manilow, it’s hard to publicly admit liking their music (Queen was once like that until they became chic again) — so I’m glad you gave them some air. However, if I never hear “Maneater” again, it might still be too soon.

    I have a soft spot for scores, rather than soundtracks. I might have to give the “Fury Road” a whirl, but my all-time favorite has and will likely always be “Blade Runner”.

    Good list!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, brother and you’ve given me one more reason to utterly respect you. Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049, both the films and their scores, are my therapy. I play the crap out of both of them. Masterpieces, both and all.

      I agree with “Candy.” It was fun bit of nonsense that would’ve failed without Iggy. They worked magic together on that one.

      Hall and Oates are no guilty pleasure for me. Those guys, with their singles and hits, put so much craft , ingenuity and soul into their pop rock. Hate to say, but they are far removed from Barry Manilow. It’s a shame their deep cuts are best left inside the deep, lol. I know a lot of people dish on “Maneater,” but I love it, especially the saxophone solo echo effect. That was brilliant, like John Oates dropping the heavy, deeper licks on the final verse of “Family Man,” to spark the urgency of the temptation their muse is going through.

      Give the Mad Max Fury Road score a listen, You won’t be disappointed. Just as good as Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy score.


  2. I also accumulate soundtracks, including for movies I haven’t even seen. Sometimes I eventually watch a movie just because I have the soundtrack and like it (“Brokedown Palace”), and sometimes I watch a movie just because I think I will like the soundtrack (“Cosmopolis”, whose soundtrack was largely supplied by my favorite band, Metric), and sometimes I’m probably never ever going to watch the movie no matter how good the soundtrack is (any “Twilight” film, “Jennifer’s Body”).

    Liked by 1 person

      • YYYYYYYYESSSSSSSS!!!! Photographing a Gwar show is a challenge, suffice it to say, since the cannon minions are always after you in the photo pit. You can tell your son I had the privilege of interviewing Oderus Urungus (aka the late Dave Brockie) on Gwar’s tour bus. He came to me out of his costume and it was the most hilarious interview I ever did in music. My ex wife used to make me play the tape for guests. Brockie threatened to “sodomize” me and just did all sorts of crazy crap in the interview. I had to throw away my questions and shoot from the hip, since he was spooling his hand at me to get with the program and feed him mindless questions. Afterwards, Brockie invited me to stay for barbecue. I hung out with the band and the minions for a while until I had to go back to the photo pit and shoot the next band. It was a summer festival where I interviewed four of the bands and photographed them all. EPIC day.


      • WHAT??? How cool! You are one lucky dude!! I would never go to another one of their concerts!! We went to the Norva in Norfolk to see them when we lived in Virginia Beach! It was winter time and we came out soaking wet! I was a spewcicle! So gross!!🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️ That’s nonsense was still coming out of my ears two days later!😂😂😂😂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I had a wonderful 16 years writing in the music biz. I can relate to your Gwar experience. I went to two of their shows when Brockie was alive and assigned photos. The first time, I learned my lesson having those water and gunk cannons turned in my direction of when to shoot and when to hide. Most bands only allow press to hang in the photo pit past the iron barrier for the first three songs. I was slopped up pretty good for the first show I shot but came out with a gnarly set of photos, including these two ladies I made as show buddies. They got crushed and drenched and wanted me to take their pic post-effects, lol… The second Gwar gig I shot, I stuck next to one of the floor amps I saw being protected by a leather cover. I snapped a shot or two quickly, then tucked my camera beneath the amp cover and so on. I managed to peel off a 20 pic set my editors loved. One of the minions pointed at me and nodded. We found each other during the Gwar-becue and he complimented my smartness.

        As to The Norva, I live in Baltimore and drove 4.5 hours to Norfolk to cover Ill Nino and Sevendust at The Norva. Lots of stories to that event and it exposed a lot of truths to me about the music biz, but let’s just say Ill Nino’s tour manager was a complete douche to me the entire time, but I got the interview with drummer Dave Chavarri who offered me the band’s hotel room since they were cutting out early. Too bad, since I had my own room booked. I later got very friendly with former Ill Nino vocalist Cristian Machado. Super nice dude who I hope to toss a few with one day. I caroused around Norfolk after the interview since I had 7 hours to kill. Gritty city, but I had fun walking all over town and patting the mermaid statues in my travels. I hunkered down at some bar for a couple hours and chatted up the bartender before going back to The Norva. The show was unforgettable for a multitude of reasons…good and not so much, but the show rocked.


  3. So Baltimore huh? My cousins lived in the burbs, Rosedale or Allendale…..something like that. I went to the Inner Harbor when they were just starting to build it up! My uncle was a pediatric doctor in Reistertown……small world huh?

    So jealous!!! Ill Nino is from my neck of the woods, Jersey and I love Sevendust!

    We saw so many great shows at the Norva….Shinedown and Seether like five times each, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Crossfade, Chevelle(Winter fresh SnoCore tour), Saint Diablo(one of my faves), Revery, Atrayu, Switchfoot, As I Lay Dying…..the list goes on and on! It was an awesome venue to see shows! I was four rows from the stage for Kenny Wayne Shepard who I knew nothing about. My husband said he played blues. I thought great, here we are going to see a Muddy Waters type band!🤦‍♀️I was such a fool! He was amazing and I swore Stevie Ray Vaughn came back from the dead!😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I enjoyed my time at The Norva other than the tour manager shenanigans that went from my time of arrival to after the gig, and well, yeah, lol. I’ll never forget the experience on so many levels. I grew as a journalist from that gig alone, but happy to have made a connection after-the-fact. Acoustics-wise, I think the Norva is a solid venue. Backstage, very nice. I won’t forget being offered Cool Ranch Doritos and a Mountain Dew while waiting to kick up the interview with Dave. Some bands get tender vittles depending on their spot on the bill. Very cool you got to see your hubby play there. I wish I’d kept up with drums, but only learned punk rock chops which only has the allotment for random fills and rolls, as in the classic punk and hardcore, which went 3/4 and 4/4 on steady thrum.

      I interviewed Atreyu at a Baltimore gig, along with Norma Jean and Unearth, who headlined that day. Another great day, where I did round robin interviewing, though my photo pass only allowed me in to Unearth’s set. I had Dan Jacobs from Atreyu, on their bus. Very nice guy. Unearth, also on the bus. Norma Jean were just coming up and in a slate van, but let me tell you, of those three bands who gave it their all, Norma Jean slaughtered the bill and they were sick as dogs. I had two of them for the interview inside the venue and we talked about road life, Cracker Barrels since most bands hit them and Waffle House due to the cheaper prices for decent grub, etc. NJ were passing around a bad cold and they still gave me the longest interview of the day and went onstage as the openers and threw down like mofos. Nobody outside their camp in Washington, DC knew they were so sick, except for me. So much respect for that band for crushing it under duress.

      Very cool you know the MD spots and got them correctly. Boom! Where are you and hubby now, Susan? It would be a kick to get together with my fiancee, TJ and you guys sometime.


  4. Cool idea for a post theme, Ray. Some great old favorites, and some new-to-me tunes to explore. Many of my stories get a “theme song” in my head while I’m writing them. The B-52s have the soundtrack for one, and inspired a character too. Hugs.


    • Oh, that’s always cool when a song or body of music can open up your muse. When I was in the industry, I wanted to be one of the heads selecting music for films so bad. I ended up creating my own soundtracks from my library for big projects I was writing, play them in the car and at my desk to fuel and guide me along. Appreciate you, Teagan! Hugs back!


  5. B-52’s “Rock Lobster” was my first introduction to them, though David Byrne’s work on Mesopotamia has to be my favorite. Said introduction was via a friend who moved to my school senior year from California. He also introduced me to Depeche Mode “Some Great Reward”, P.I.L. “This is not a love song”, Oingo Boingo “Only A Lad”, and Adam and the Ants “Christian Dior”. Enjoying your lively descriptions too, “Mostly in the way each band cooks up a chili con carnage ambience behind their core of twang.” Too cool. 😎


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