Tag Archives: AC/DC

#songoftheday: Sum 41 – The Hell Song

What other music video has special appearances by AC/DC, Alice Cooper, and the Spice Girls?

Learning how to play the main riff to this song was one of my proudest moments in grade 10 guitar class.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater Soundtrack

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I’m a big fan of programs like iTunes Genius. They take the music that you’re currently listening to, and give you song recommendations based on other people with similar taste in music. In high school, the soundtracks to the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games were like my own version of iTunes Genius. The big difference being, all song suggestions were based on the assumption that I really liked skate punk.

With the rampant music downloading at the time, I wasn’t listening to too many albums. Internet connection speeds were catching up with my ambitions of checking out all the songs that I’d heard of, but there was a new obstacle approaching fast. I was running out of new music to check out. The pop stations generally repeated the same songs on a daily basis, and even the local rock station tended to stick to the same playlist. Hearing Metallica’s cover of “Turn the Page” for the 50th time wasn’t exactly inspiring, so I was on the lookout for a new source. Enter, the Tony Hawk series.

I’d picked up Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater for the Nintendo 64 in the fall of 2000, and instantly fell in love with the music. Looking back, it was probably the worst possible way to be introduced to these songs. N64 games were pretty infamous for their limited storage capacity. This wasn’t a huge deal for games like Zelda, or Mario where the music was mostly chiptunes, but things got a bit dicey when pre-recorded music tracks entered the scene. In the transition from CD (Playstation) to cartridge (N64), the Tony Hawk soundtrack got pretty mangled. The sound quality took a dive, songs were heavily edited for time/language, and a good chunk of the tracks didn’t even make the cut. All that said, I still spent hours in front of the TV with the same minute and a half of “Superman” by Goldfinger on repeat.

I’ve heard it said that the true test of a song’s quality, is if it still holds up when performed by a single singer with a guitar. I’d say that if you hear a song filtered through the Nintendo 64, and still enjoy it, that song’s probably a masterpiece.

Each successive¬†year brought a new Tony Hawk game, and along with it, a new song list that seemed custom made for me. Thanks to the annual boost in song-count, and genre diversity, I’d found my go-to source for new tunes in high school.

Eventually Activision (the publisher of Tony Hawk), would run the series into the ground, but those first 4 games were magic. If there’s any doubt, just take a look at this track list:

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
1. The Dead Kennedys – Police Truck
2. The Ernies – Here and Now
3. Even Rude – Vilified
4. Goldfinger – Superman
5. Primus – Jerry Was a Race Car Driver
6. Speedealer – Screamer/Nothing to Me
7. Suicidal Tendencies – Cyco Vision
8. The Suicide Machines – New Girl
9. Unsane – Committed
10. The Vandals – Euro-Barge

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
1. Rage Against the Machine – Guerilla Radio
2. Bad Religion – You
3. Anthrax feat. Chuck D. of Public Enemy – Bring the Noise
4. Powerman 5000 – When Worlds Collide
5. Naughty by Nature – Pin the Tail on the Donkey
6. Papa Roach – Blood Brothers
7. The High and Mighty feat. Mos Def & Mad Skillz – B-Boy Document 99
8. Consumed – Heavy Metal Winner
9. Dub Pistols – Cyclone
10. Swingin’ Utters – Five Lessons Learned
11. Styles of Beyond – Subculture
12. Millencolin – No Cigar
13. Black Planet feat. Alley Life – Out With the Old
14. Lagwagon – May 16
15. Fu Manchu – Evil Eye

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3
1. AFI – The Boy Who Destroyed the World
2. Adolescents – Amoeba
3. Alien Ant Farm – Wish
4. Bodyjar – Not the Same
5. CKY – 96 Quite Bitter Beings
6. Del the Funky Homosapien – If You Must
7. Guttermouth – I’m Destroying the World
8. House of Pain – I’m a Swing It
9. KRS-One – Hush
10. Mad Capsule Markets – Pulse
11. Motorhead – Ace of Spades
12. The Nextmen – Amongst the Madness
13. Ozomatli – Cut Chemist Suite
14. The Ramones – Blitzkrieg Bop
15. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Fight Like a Brave
16. Redman – Let’s Get Dirty
17. The Reverend Horton Heat – I Can’t Surf
18. Rollins Band – What’s the Matter Man
19. Xzibit – Paparazzi
20. Zebrahead – Check

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4
1. AC/DC – TNT
2. Aesop Rock – Labor
3. Agent Orange – Bloodstains (Darkness Version)
4. Avail – Simple Song
5. The Bouncing Souls – Manthem
6. City Stars – Bad Dreams
7. The Cult – Bad Fun
8. De La Soul – Oodles of O’s
9. Delinquent Habits – House of the Rising Drum
10. The Distillers – Seneca Falls
11. Eyedea & Abilities – Big Shots
12. The Faction – Skate and Destroy
13. Flogging Molly – Drunken Lullabies
14. Gang Star – Mass Appeal
15. Goldfinger – Spokesman
16. Haiku D’Etat – Non Compos Mentis
17. Hot Water Music – Freightliner
18. Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast
19. JFA – Beach Blanket Bongout
20. Less Than Jake – All My Best Friends are Metalheads
21. Lootpack – Whenimondamic
22. Lunchbox Avenue – Everything and Anything
23. Public Enemy – By The Time I Get to Arizona
24. Muskabeatz – Bodyrock (feat. Biz Markie)
25. Muskabeatz – I’m A Star (feat. Grandmaster Melle Mel)
26. Muskabeatz – Versus of Doom (feat. Jeru the Damaja)
27. N.W.A. – Express Yourself
28. Nebula – Giant
29. The Offspring – Blackball
30. P.O.D. – Boom
31. Rocket from the Crypt – Savoir Faire
32. Run-DMC – My Adidas
33. Sex Pistols – Anarchy in the UK
34. System of a Down – Shimmy
35. Toy Dolls – Dig That Groove Baby
36. U.S. Bombs – Yer Country
37. Zeke – Death Alley

Napster

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A the dawn of the new millennium, Napster was at the forefront of a huge shakeup of the music industry. Suddenly, every song you’d ever imagined listening to was available for free. The 60s had free love, but we had free tunes, and it was a dream come true.

I’m counting Napster along with the other influential albums, because, to be honest, it (and its other P2P contemporaries) did more to inform me about music than any single album could. The days of paying $20 for a few songs, and hoping that the rest of the album was decent, were officially over. The only real barrier for entry left, was how much patience you had for dial-up internet.

I first heard about Napster in the spring of 2000, from the same friend that introduced me to Fat Music Vol. IV. He told tales of a computer program that let people download, and share all the music in the world. To top it all off, the entire thing was free. ¬†The whole idea seemed too crazy to be true, but I couldn’t wait to try it out.

The program itself was really user friendly. The simplicity of just typing in the name of the artist/song you wanted, then having it just show up was pretty mind blowing at the time. You’d get a list of results arranged by audio quality, and whatever connection speed the uploader was running on. Normally it would make the most sense to go with the highest sound quality, but there was a bit of a catch back then. High quality meant bigger file sizes, and bigger file sizes meant longer download times. Now, patience was only part of it. The biggest concern was that the longer something was downloading, the more likely it was that someone would call your house, and instantly kill your internet connection. Downloading “Stairway to Heaven” can get pretty stressful, when it’s your 20th try, it’s 90% downloaded, and you’re positive that your grandmother’s going to call at any second.

Putting the technical limitations aside, Napster gave me an unheard of freedom to discover new artists and genres. It even had a built in chat, with different rooms for more genres of music than I’d even heard of at that point. An innocent question of, “What is Ska?” in the Ska chat room resulted in an impromptu essay about what Ska “means”, from someone that I can only assume, was the founder of the hipster movement.

Those first few months of using Napster were pretty incredible. Even people with 14.4kbit connections were happily sharing their music collections with the world. The legality of the whole thing never really occured to me at the time. I mean, this was before Metallica let us know that, surprisingly enough, all this swapping of copyrighted material might be considered piracy by some.

The popular idea at the time was that Napster was costing the music industry a fortune. I can’t speak for everybody, but if it wasn’t for Napster, the record company execs would be walking around with a lot less of my money in their pockets. Without the financial barrier for entry, I was free to check out a ton of bands that I’d heard of, but wasn’t really familiar with. Bands like Guns N’ Roses, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, The Eagles, The Who, Green Day…. Bands that I’d go on to spend a good chunk of real, honest-to-goodness cash on.

With all this newfound music, I set out to develop my own version of the Big Shiny Tunes series. Soup Mix volumes 1-4 (and its spinoff brand, Soup’s Punk Mix) were an ever evolving anthology series, that gave a pretty good snapshot of my musical tastes at the time. Mostly consisting of equal amounts The Offspring, AC/DC, and Goldfinger, the mixes would go on to bring in more genres and artists over time.

I didn’t own a CD burner at the time, so I had to get a friend of mine to actually burn the CDs. Since there was a charge of $10, and a lengthy bike ride associated with the creation of each Soup Mix, I put a lot of time into the pre-burn process. After designing the cover art, I’d spend hours writing out all the songs I wanted, then doing some hardcore math to whittle down the run-times to come under that 80 minute mark.

Once the songs were picked, I started to really focus on flow. Taking extra care to make sure that the transition from one track to another was never jarring, no matter how many genres and tempos I wanted to cram on there. Lagwagon and Buffalo Springfield don’t just go together without a bit of planning after all.

Napster wouldn’t last forever, but Kazaa and Morpheus picked up the slack for the remainder of high school. Gradually the music sharing scene lost that bohemian spirit of music for everyone, and became a bit more about surprise viruses and spyware. It was nice while it lasted though.

#songoftheday: Crash Kings – It’s Only Wednesday

A rock band doing guitar solos?
Nothing too interesting about that.

What sets Crash Kings apart, is that they’re a rock band without a guitar player. They do, however, have a very talented pianist, who manages to simulate hammer-ons, pull-offs, and bends with the help of his modified keyboard.

Here’s a good showcase that the band posted on YouTube:

#songoftheday: AC/DC – Walk All Over You

AC/DC always struck me has a band that really knew how to do a great intro. Thunderstruck, Hells Bells, Riff Raff, If You Want Blood (You Got it)…the list goes on and on.
Going around 30 seconds before the vocals even kick in is practically a given in an one of their songs.

Of all these intros, I’m pretty sure this song from Highway to Hell has my favourite. It’s just too bad they rarely play it live.

AC/DC Live

With my conservative upbringing, it goes without saying that hard rock wasn’t really on the playlist at my great-grandparent’s place. This is where a bit of irony kicks in.

I’d been invited to tag along to a church-league baseball game on St. Joe’s Island by my cousin, and his family. On the drive, his father opened up a CD case (which happened to have a man with devil horns on the back), and popped in the first disk of AC/DC Live.

The extended intro to Thunderstruck sounded like an approaching storm, and had this ominous feeling about. It all felt like something that I shouldn’t really be allowed to listen to, but I was mesmerized. Then, that riff kicked in, and I was hooked.

As soon as I got back to my great-grandparent’s house, I made sure to call up my mother, and tell her all about it. Setting aside the fact that I thought Thunderstruck was called “Thundershock”, she seemed pretty amused by my enthusiasm towards the whole experience.

A few years later, around the beginning of high school, I would go on to use what money I’d saved to buy my own copy from Music World. Needless to say, I felt like I was officially becoming a cool teenager.

In fact, my love of this album resulted in a Christmas gift of Back in Black from my mother, that same year. In retrospect, I think of my mother as pretty cool for gifting me that bad boy. I mean, it’s not like she was one of those oblivious parents who had no idea what she was buying her child. She knew exactly what she was doing. Song titles like “Hells Bells”, “Have a Drink on Me”, and “Let Me Put My Love Into You” didn’t phase her one bit. This was AC/DC. Her kid was showing an interest in the “classics”, and she was all too pleased to nurture that interest.

My Uncles proved to be of a pretty similar mindset. That same Christmas Day, I was over at my grandmother’s for Christmas lunch. Once my Uncles had been made aware of my interest in AC/DC, I was immediately bequeathed all the AC/DC CDs in their possession. In the course of 24 hours, my meager CD collection (maybe 8 or 9 albums) exploded to include the majority of the AC/DC discography. This, by itself was a pretty big part of my musical identity all through high school. Baggy jeans, and a big AC/DC t-shirt were a pretty iconic look for high school-era Soup. A good chunk of the other bands that I got into were by virtue of my interest in AC/DC….thinking about it now, I could probably dedicate an entire blog to the music that I listen to, as a direct result of AC/DC Live.

It goes without saying that this album left an impact.