As this long, hot summer finally sees its waning days, the thought of good summer records piqued my interest as a topic to discuss this week. A good record can indeed become the soundtrack for any given time of the year, and summer records probably top those lists within lists.
The Tinted Windows Duff McKagan's column runs every Thursday on Reverb. Check back on Monday for the first in a new weekly installment from Duff.
I was given two CDs at the beginning of July that became the driving songs of my countless trips over the Cascades this summer. The first is the Parlor Mobs' self-titled full-length, a kick-ass, old-school rock-and-roll rave-up played by 20-somethings who belie their age with their use of vintage Gibson guitars and old tube amplification. Great songs, great players, and a pretty damn good singer, too!
The second is the self-titled album by the Tinted Windows. It's a really fun pop-rock record full of songs that if they were being made by Cheap Trick, would put the band in arenas again. I guess it's no strange thing, then, that CT's Bun E. Carlos is the drummer here. This odd band lineup seems to have thrown out the idea that you have to be perceived as hip or cool (it includes James Iha on guitar, the singer from Hanson!, and the bass player from Fountains of Wayne). It's the hands-down funnest record I have heard in years.
Here are a few more summer records from my past:It's Only Rock and Roll, the Rolling Stones: This cassette was the soundtrack to the summer I decided to move from Seattle to Hollywood. It got me through a breakup with a girlfriend, kept me awake on my nonstop drive, and kept me company when I was lonely down there in Hell-A. This cassette and my little ghetto blaster were both stolen from my car a couple of weeks after I moved there. Ah . . . welcome to the jungle? (Sorry about that. I couldn't resist.)
1999, Prince: Ah yes, the summer of '83 is when I finally realized that I was one sexy son of a bitch.
The Joshua Tree, U2: This record was by all means not just the soundtrack for my summer of '87, but got me through all of the craziness that was surrounding my band Guns N' Roses that year. My best friend died that summer, and U2 seemed to somehow speak to me and only me, steeling my sorrow and tempering my sadness. This record still holds an important niche in my heart.
The Real Thing, Faith No More: The summer this record came out, I was sort of stuck in Chicago writing songs for what would become Use Your Illusion I and II. What a groundbreaking record this was at the time . . . fresh and vibrant.
Nevermind, Nirvana: As Nirvana were our (GN'R's) labelmates at Geffen, I was able to get a pre-release cassette copy of this record. I remember driving all around L.A. cranking the fuck out of this record. I wore out my cassette and had to get another one, as I would brag to anyone who would listen that these guys were from my town and that soon the rest of the world would realize that people didn't live in tepees in Seattle!
Damaged, Black Flag: In 1982, Black Flag released this tour de force, and I would spin this record almost nonstop at my house (along with a T Bone Burnett record . . . inexplicably enough, these two records really complemented each other!).
Young, Loud, and Snotty, the Dead Boys: This must have been the summer of '79, when my young ears were just coming of age to the trashier sounds of punk rock and roll (as opposed to the English stuff--the Clash, Damned, Vibrators, 999, Undertones, XTC, Jam, Pistols, etc.). This record was the first in a long line of great records that just left me wanting to break stuff!
Look Homeward Angel, Aerosmith: I found this bootleg record at a record store on the Ave. sometime in the summer of '77. The hands-down best REAL bootleg that I have ever owned. I think I still have it somewhere.
Rated R, Queens of the Stone Age: With a song titled "Feelgood Hit of the Summer," how could this album NOT be on my list? No, really--this record, to me, bridged a gap that had been missing in rock sometime earlier this decade.
Live at Budokan, Cheap Trick: Duh!
Killing Joke, self-titled: A sinister and mesmerizing study in just how good a band can be. A summer record? Yes, indeed. I think it was '82? Or was it '81?
Mother Love Bone, self-titled: This bittersweet record got me through some tough times when I myself was at the wrong and losing end of too many vices to name here in this piece alone. A beautiful record for anyone's summer in any year.
The Love Below, OutKast: I played bass along with this record every night before we played on VR's first full summer tour ('04). What an amazing journey this whole record takes the listener on. Here is to more of that from Andre 3000!
What do you guys have for me and the rest of us to share?