Lazy Sunday XXXIX: A Very Dokken Christmas Series

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart wrote a series of hard rock album reviews for Orion’s Cold Fire, photog’s excellent blog.  This week, my students have their big Christmas concert, with all the spectacle and merriment that involves.  In that spirit, I thought I’d dedicate this Lazy Sunday to my reviews of Dokken’s first three albums, which you can read in full at Orion’s Cold Fire.

  • A Very Dokken Christmas, Part I” (Review on OCF) – This review looked at Dokken’s Breaking the Chains, the 1983 version (there was an earlier version in 1981 that was a demo, of sorts, for the band).  It’s a solid album, but not nearly as good as their next two.  The single title track, “Breaking the Chains,” is a fun and catchy little mid-tempo rocker, though.
  • A Very Dokken Christmas, Part II: Tooth and Nail” (Review on OCF) – If I’m not mistaken, Tooth and Nail is the first Dokken album I ever heard, after learning more about the band in The Rageaholic’s Metal Mythos: DOKKEN video.  It’s a great album, and it saved the band financially.  In one of those classic stories of artists getting screwed by major labels, Dokken was around a million bucks in debt after the release of Breaking the Chains and the subsequent tour, even though it was a hit record.  Tooth and Nail‘s title is no accident, as the band really did drag themselves “straight to the top” (to quote the title track).  This album got them out of debt—and on the way to hair metal superstardom.
  • A Very Dokken Christmas, Part III: Under Lock and Key” (Review on OCF) – Released the same year yours portly was born, Under Lock and Key would see Dokken at their best.  The album opens with the one-two punch of “Unchain the Night” and “The Hunter” (“Unchain the Night” starts with an instrumental introduction that sets a powerful, mysterious tone before cranking into high gear), and it’s all awesome from there on.

Christmas music it ain’t, but it sure makes for fun rock ‘n’ roll.  Have a Very Dokken Christmas!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

SubscribeStar Saturday: The Tedium of (Teaching) Slavery

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A major part of American history was, of course, slavery.  As I typed that sentence, I nearly wrote “the unfortunate legacy of slavery,” though we’re still living that, just not in the way the race-baiters and social justice warriors claim.

But phrases like “the unfortunate legacy of slavery” have become incredibly cliched.  It and similar phrases (“slavery is our great national sin”) act as magic talismans, incantations that, when invoked, protect the speaker (presumably) from the ultimate curse, the label of “racist.”

Of course, slavery was wrong, and slavery is immoral.  It was our great national sin (paid for, as Lincoln pointed out in his Second Inaugural Address, with the blood “drawn by the sword” in the American Civil War).  It continues to have an “unfortunate legacy,” in that race-baiting charlatans continue to blame it for virtually every pathology in black American culture.

Dang it… I screwed up the incantation with that last bit.  I’d better kiss my job goodbye right now.

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Milo on Romantic Music

The Christmas season always gets me excited for music, because there are so many wonderful carols and hymns about the birth of Jesus.  I will write more on the topic of Christmas carols later on in the month, but today I wanted to touch on a really niche topic:  Milo Yiannopoulos‘s love of Romantic-era music.

What got me on this topic is not just my musical mood; it was an epic Telegram thread Milo had going about… classical music.

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TBT: Hard Rock Reviews on Orion’s Cold Fire

Every year my school puts on an over-the-top Christmas concert, which is just eight days away (yikes!).  Since Christmas is the most important holiday of the year (second only to Easter in its theological significance for Christians), my belief is that we should honor Jesus’ birth with an epic rock concert.

We do all the heartwarming holiday classics (including the best Christmas song ever written, “O, Holy Night”).  We also will take a timeless 70s or 80s hard rock classic and either a.) put it into a medley of Christmas tunes and/or b.) change the lyrics to Christmas ones.  For example, one year we took Dio’s “Holy Diver” and linked it to “Joy to the World.”  We then changed the opening lyric of “Holy Diver/You’ve been down too long in the midnight sea” to “Merry Christmas!/You’ve been down too long in the Arctic Sea.”  And so on.

Anyway, in the spirit of the Christmas season, I thought I’d dig up a real deep cut:  my review of Rainbow’s Down to Earth that I wrote for Orion’s Cold Fire, when I was contributing to photog’s website more regularly.  Once I started on this year of blogging, I lacked the time to do these reviews, but I’ll hopefully write some more this Christmas (if photog will have me).

This TBT features two posts:  the post on this blog about the review, and the review itself as it appears on Orion’s Cold Fire.

Enjoy, Merry Christmas, and rock on!

—TPP

Post on The Portly Politico Linking to the Album Review

Blogger photog has graciously agreed to publish some of my short music reviews on his blog, Orion’s Cold Fire. Specifically, I’m contributing reviews of classic hard rock and heavy metal albums, genres that I believe represent the artistic and technical pinnacles of rock and roll.

My first review, of Rainbow’s 1979 album Down to Earth, is available now on OCF. Check it out—and rock on!

Review of Down to Earth on Orion’s Cold Fire

Linkhttps://orionscoldfire.com/index.php/2018/12/19/the-portly-politicos-review-of-rainbows-down-to-earth/

The good folks at Orion’s Cold Fire have generously allowed me the opportunity to contribute to the site.  I write primarily about politics, economics, and history at https://theportlypolitico.wordpress.com, but as a “semi-pro” musician (and a full-time music teacher), I enjoy occasionally critiquing music.  The purpose of this feature is to review classic 70s and 80s-era hard rock and heavy metal albums.  Why such a specific genre and time period?  Essentially, I believe this genre represents the pinnacle of rock music.  With its confluence of blues, acid rock, country-western, and all the other distinct musical “flavors” of the mid-twentieth century, rock and roll reached its greatest artistic and technical summits during the “classic rock” era.  I’ll write further about that contentious claim at a later date; but now, let’s boogie!

When considering an album to review, I more or less use this criteria:  does it sound like hard rock/heavy metal?  Have I listened to it enough to comment upon it?  And does it rock?  That’s not the best criteria, as it predisposes me to writing glowing reviews of every album, but there you have it—the highly unscientific approach I take to writing about music I generally love.

All that aside, my first album review for Orion’s Cold Fire was a no-brainer:  1979’s Down to Earth by Rainbow.  This album perfectly encapsulates the direction of rock music at that crucial turning point between punk and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

Down to Earth was the first and only Rainbow album to feature Graham Bonnet on lead vocals, who replaced legendary metal vocalist Ronnie James Dio.  Rainbow’s guitarist and mastermind, Ritchie Blackmore, was notorious for sacking musicians on a whim, so most of the album’s personnel was wildly different than even the previous Rainbow release.

Regardless, this album rocks.  While he’s no Dio, the songs on Down to Earth are uniquely suited for Bonnet’s vocals—probably because he wrote the melodies after the band had already recorded all of the tracks.

The album’s big hit—and Rainbow’s first hit single—is “Since You Been Gone,” a Russ Ballard-penned tune that strikes the right balance between rock and pop.  The chorus is catchy as the flu, but like any good hard rock song, the pre-chorus build really sets up the triumphant release of the chorus beautifully.  Listen to the bass and guitar after the line “Your poison letter, your telegram” and you’ll see what I mean.

That said, my favorite tracks are the opening and closing numbers, “All Night Long” and “Lost in Hollywood,” respectively.  Musically, they rock, and “Lost in Hollywood” passes what I call the “drive test”—I drive much faster when listening to it.  It also features some of Rainbow’s signature neoclassical embellishments, pointing to the rise of neoclassical metal.

Lyrically, they’re fairly depressing commentaries of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, not to mention the Sexual Revolution.  “All Night Long” is sung from the point of view of a jaded, lonely rocker, searching the crowd for a babe to spend the night with him (the most poignant line, from the third verse: “I know I can’t stand another night on my own”).  “Lost in Hollywood” describes a man so dedicated to rock, he’s lost the woman who makes it all worthwhile.

There are some less memorable tracks—the neoclassically-inflected “Eyes of the World” is a commentary on humanity’s rapacious capacity for violence and waste, but is a bit ponderous; “Makin’ Love” has its moments, but is forgettable—but, from start to finish, Down to Earth is as good an introduction to classic hard rock as I can conceive.  Crank it up!

The Collapse of the Obama Coalition?

Yesterday, would-be authoritarian and multiracial presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris dropped out of the Democratic primaries.  That’s shocking news, but good for the future of republic.

Early on, I (as well as Z Man) thought that Senator Harris posed a major threat.  With the Left’s supposed desire for a charismatic, exotic-but-not-too-different, intersectional candidate, Harris fit the bill.  She is basically a female Obama:  the unusual ethnic background (Jamaican and East Indian), the meteoric rise, the stentorian rhetoric, the Third World penchant for strong-man (or -woman) rule.  As a woman, she could pick up the angry professional woman vote, and as a nominal black she could pick up  black Americans.

Boy, was I wrong—thank goodness!  The black vote is hewing pretty closely to former Vice President Joe Biden, apparently because of his association with the Obama administration, which black Americans remember fondly.  The box wine auntie vote is going to Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.  All of the suburban soccer moms, urban young professionals, and Episcopalians are going for Pete Buttigieg.

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Reacting to Hysterical Reactions: Peloton Ad

While driving home from work, I heard a little news bulletin on the radio about controversy surrounding a recent Peloton ad.  Peloton is some kind of high-end exercise bike that features videos of instructors shouting at you in that obnoxious, oddly stentorian way that hyper-motivational athletic types use when coaching quasi-sports for middle-aged women.  You know the kind of voice I mean.

Apparently, the ad is “cringeworthy” because it features a woman working out, and then thanking her husband for the gift (presumably on the Christmas following the one where she received the bike).  Also, the woman is attractive and already thin; never mind that we’re supposed to be “healthy at any size” (a concept, as my girlfriend explained to me, that does not mean we pretend 400-pound land monsters gobbling dozens of Quarter Pounders a day are “healthy,” but that a person can pursue a healthy lifestyle even if he’s morbidly obese).

The shrill feminists denouncing the ad are saying that the husband is shaming his wife into becoming even thinner—never mind that maybe she wanted an easy way to workout at home (skinny people can be unhealthy in their habits, too).  Throughout the commercial, the wife records her progress, and critics are pointing out the anxious look on her face, suggesting she’s pleading for her husband’s affection.

Give me a break.

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Cyber Monday Musings

Today’s post is a glorified sales pitch.  ‘Tis the season, after all.  If you want to get to the punchline, head over to my SubscribeStar page and subscribe for $1/month to unlock all of my SubscribeStar Saturday posts.  For $5/month, you get fresh doodles every Sunday, as well as other random bonuses.  The most recent $5 post included an MP3 of an original composition from Electrock Retrospective, Volume I: Dance Party.  More goodies to come!

Well, the glorious Thanksgiving Week is over.  The blog Didact’s Reach opened today’s post with the observation that this Monday is “doubly terrible”—after four or five days of heavy eating, sleeping, and shopping, nobody wants to be back at the grind.

This morning officially kicks off the busiest two weeks of the school year for yours portly:  a middle school drama production gets into tech rehearsals (and opens) this week, and our big, over-the-top Christmas concert is ten school days away—yikes!  That’s why I call Thanksgiving “the eye of the storm”—the brief calm before the craziness of December hits.  As the tech guy and music teacher at my little school, it’s an unusually busy season.  My online course hits their exam this week, too, so those grades are coming due.

But that’s all tedium that will get done one way or the other.  As for today, it’s Cyber Monday!

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Lazy Sunday XXXVIII: Best of the Reblogs, Part III

The Lazy Sundays roll on!  Today marks the first Sunday of Advent season, as we metaphorically prepare for the Birth of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  But instead of doing a compilation of heartwarming holiday posts, we’re soldiering on with our “Best of the Reblogs” (see Part I and Part II).

  • Reblog: The Normalization of Ugliness Inevitably Becomes The Denigration of Beauty” – This post was a reblog from the ultra-controversial Chateau Heartiste website, which was so full of edgelord red pillery that the SJWs at WordPress finally pulled the plug.  While there was some truly despicable stuff at CH, it also hosted some hard, gut-punching Truths.  The original post argued that we’ve gone to the extreme of accepting all sorts of grotesqueries not just as people, but as the new standard of beauty—to the point that having objectively beautiful people in advertisements is seen as “hate speech.”  Of course we should love all people, but we don’t—and shouldn’t—pretend that everyone is pretty, or that every lifestyle is healthy.
  • Reblog: Conan the Southerner?” – One of the many great posts from The Abbeville Institute, this bit of literary history detailed the development of Conan the Barbarian, and the muscular barbarian’s creator’s origins and upbringing in hardscrabble Texas.  Conan is not just a wildman from the steppes; he’s a man of the Old South.
  • Galaxy Quest II: Cox Blogged” – I wrote a post, “Galaxy Quest,” about our attempts to understand the vastness of our own galaxy.  Longtime blog (and real life) friend Bette Cox linked me to some of her own work on astronomy and cosmology, and this post was an attempt to bring those writings to a (slightly) wider audience.  I’ve been reading Bette’s material for about a year, and had no idea how much she wrote about astronomy, cosmology, and space.

That’s it for this week’s Lazy Sunday.  Enjoy the start of the Christmas season.

Ho ho ho!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

 

Rationing and Abundance

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Thanksgiving and related observations have been a running theme this week.  Thanksgiving reminds us of how much abundance we truly have.  It’s hard not to recognize when there are tables full of fattening, succulent dishes, enough to rival the feasts of medieval kings.

In spite of that marvelous abundance, however, rationing is still very much a reality.  The inescapable fact of economics—indeed, the whole purpose of the field—is that there are only so many resources to go around, and societies struggle to figure out how best to allocate those resources.

This problem is particularly true when it comes to our most valuable resource:  time.

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