Photos, Words and Video by G.
Abel Tesfaye aka The Weeknd
In the 1980s when I was a kid and I turned on the radio to the current pop music stations, I vividly remember my parents thinking our music was “just a bunch of noise” in comparison to the classic rock and roll of the era they grew up in. Years later, we gained an appreciation of each others music primarily based on the lasting effects both kinds of music had on the world. I’ve always tried to stay current on the latest in music and in the streaming music generation and it gets harder and and harder to find music that I could find myself wanting to listen to one time, let alone over and over again. I have found myself retreating to “obscure indie bands” so that at a minimum, I can listen to music being made and sung by actual musicians. I am really not a fan of the autotune world we live in, where it takes over 5 writers to compose the most simplistic and banal lyrics imaginable. I have also found that mainstream radio, which I used to enjoy so much, is so offensive to my ear drums, I’d rather listen to silence than what the current pop channels have to offer.
With that being said, for a lot of the modern music super stars, I am familiar with their names (primarily because they can’t seem to keep out of the scandal pages for being despicable people – but we’ll save that discussion for another time), and I find I don’t know the music that makes them famous. When a name keeps popping up, I often take a chance and go see them live and I experience their music for the first time when they are standing before me. Also a discussion for another time – try it some time. It really takes you out of your comfort zone and I can say from doing this hundreds of times, there are not a lot of people that are willing to take this chance. When I did this for Miley Cyrus last year, I found myself feeling like an “old person” as I was completely shocked at how bad her music was (despite thinking she had a good voice) and also what a bad role model she is for teens, her main audience, who attended the concert without parental supervision, dressing up like complete sluts and in winter time, no less! Trust me, I am one of the most liberal people you’ll ever meet and I found myself cringing with horror, which messes with my head because it makes me feel like I am an old person who is judging the youth.
Enter Abel Tesfaye, also known by his stage name: The Weeknd (sic). Three of his songs slipped onto my radar: “Nocturnal,” a dance track with Disclosure, “Prisoner,” a duet with Lana Del Rey (a track I don’t really care for, but I like Lana’s vocals) and “Can’t Feel My Face,” an uptempo track that almost rips off the music for a song called “Jaded” by Soul Decision verbatim (but I like that song). That was enough for me to go see The Weeknd, who played 4 sold out shows at New York arenas (2 at Madison Square Garden and 2 at Barlcays Center in Brooklyn). If a performer can play to approximately 70,000 people over the course of 1 week, his music must be something special, so I took a chance and went to see him at Barclays Center on November 19, 2015.
At the conclusion of The Weeknd’s show, I found that he has a decent voice and I enjoyed the light show that included explosions and fire. What I didn’t enjoy was walking out of the concert feeling dumbfounded in a similar manner (but with different circumstances) like I did when I left the Miley Cyrus concert a year ago at the same venue. I should also point out that I do my best to avoid the news, but occasionally, items hit my radar, typically after they are discussed ad nauseum. One such item is “Black Lives Matter.” It’s hard to escape that sound byte. With what little I know on the matter, one way to make that so is for all of us, black, white or green to start treating each other with respect. Seems like a no-brainer to me, but to the 70,000 that sang along word for word to songs by The Weeknd, the so called “N-Word” was uttered so many times that I lost count. In my opinion, it sets any progress this movement might have made backwards by leaps and bounds and not only is this guy selling out arenas, but he is also winning awards for his music! WHAT??? Nearly every song is bragging about being high out of his mind, fucking, beating up and degrading bitches (his words, not mine) and causing havoc with his niggaz (his words, not mine). Sounds like he should be in jail instead of being celebrated as the “new Michael Jackson.” This is like a Kathy Bates in Misery moment, where you want to shout “HAVE YOU ALL GOT AMNESIA!?” Do parents know what their kids are really listening to? And if so, Madonna and 2 Live Crew are owed an apology because at the time, they were mocked for being too scandalous and that stuff could be taught in church in comparison to what The Weeknd was telling his followers! So with that, I decided to compile a list of 10 of the most horrifying lyrics I heard at The Weeknd’s concert. The items that make the list are included for their horrifying lyrical content, because if we wanted to do one with all the bad grammar and misspelled words, we could be here for days.
After the jump, see if you are as horrified as I am or if you think I am an oldster that needs to get with the times. Please let me know in the comments section, and include your age if you would, please.
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Photo, artwork and words by G.
Diamonds and Pearls
lamestream mainstream media was reporting on Prince reinstating his Instagram account, the real Prince news item of the day went unnoticed: an early incarnation of his 1991 classic album “Diamonds and Pearls” has leaked, and in perfect sound quality! I’ll get to the differences in a little bit, but can we just take a moment to completely lose our minds at how awesome this is! For decades, Prince fans have wondered how these things make their way out of Prince’s legendary vault, and we could speculate for days without a clear answer since reporters never directly ask Prince this million dollar question. One thing you should know if you are just a casual Prince fan: the man has had a 30+ year career and has released over 40 albums under his own name, has written the lyrics and words for another 20 albums for his “proteges,” has toured the world tirelessly throughout his career, sometimes performing as many as 3 shows a day (with completely different set lists) and never stops recording! At his Minneapolis recording complex, Paisley Park, a library of music known to die-hards as “The Vault” exists, and is rumored to contain thousands of unreleased songs. THOUSANDS! The average number of songs an artist releases in a 30 year career usually averages around 300, and this means that Prince is sitting on at least 700 songs that the world will never get to hear. That’s several 30 year careers worth of music if you don’t want to do the math! Whoa! Luckily for die-hards, songs mysteriously escape the vault from time to time, and many of the tracks are as vital as anything he has officially released. The creativity of this man is something of an anomaly, and that is something that is rarely celebrated in the press, and frankly should be mentioned in every article about him from now until eternity.
“Diamonds and Pearls,” The 13th studio album released by Prince on October 1, 1991 featured the debut of his new band, the New Power Generation. For the first time, Prince included a backing singer (Rosie Gaines) and a rapper (Tony M.) in the official band lineup. While Rosie Gaines was a perfect compliment to Prince’s voice, fans and critics did not feel the same way about Tony M. Prince’s 1980s “golden period” where basically every song he released was amazing, had started to wain, and Prince, for the first time in his career – up to that point – decided to follow a trend rather than set it. The result was an album that featured some brilliant tracks along side some cringe-worthy rap performances by both Prince and Tony M. Over the years, the Prince fan community has learned to love all the songs on the record, except “Jughead” which aside from his current output ranks as one of the worst songs he’s ever released. Meanwhile, in November of 1990, his box office bomb “Graffiti Bridge” had just been released and Prince submitted the first incarnation of one of his final classic albums. The bootleg “Diamonds and Pearls: Beginnings” features not only a vastly different track list, but every version of every song that eventually got released was dramatically changed. So this is what you will hear when you track this amazing bootleg down (read: please don’t come asking me for it!)
- Something Funky This House Comes. The officially released album opens with the spiritually charged “Thunder,” but before that song was included, the album was set to open with the rap-heavy “Something Funky This House Comes.” Tony M. introduces each member of the band and gives them a chance to “do their thing.” A bold move for Prince to sparsely appear on the opening song, but eventually he changed his mind completely and the track remains unreleased officially to this day.
- Daddy Pop. The song also sits as the second track on the officially released album, but this version is dramatically different. It features different vocals and the end rap verse by Tony M. is cut out completely in favor of an instrumental break down. The song shows off Prince’s bad-assery (not a word), where he plays the role of “Daddy Pop,” the funkiest man in the land who has “grooves and grooves up on the shelf,” (the first lyric to acknowledge the Vault). He also basically tell the competition to kiss his ass with the cut lyric, “Oh yeah, I turn the other cheek/ Swing… oops and miss / See this, kiss it!” Rosie Gaines is utilized greatly for the first time in her brief stint with the NPG as she plays off Prince towards the end, but all of that was cut from the final version. Personally, I think this version is much better than the officially released version.
- Walk Don’t Walk. Not that much different than the officially released version, other than it’s a little more stripped down, and perhaps mixed differently.
- Schoolyard. This song is Prince as his nastiest. Taking the view point of a 16 year old kid who is trying to get laid for the first time, it’s perhaps a little more true to life than we all know as around that time, Prince had met his future first wife, Mayte, who was 16 at the time of their meeting. Not only is the song funky, but the lyrics are the tongue-in-cheek Prince that is very absent from his recent output. Only Prince could have and get away with a chorus that contains the refrain “Schoolyard / Schoolyard / Gettin’ it on in the Schoolyard.” The first verse finds Prince fantasizing about his dream girl and when he hangs out with her and his friends, they sit too close in the car and with each turn “Carrie fell in my lap / He asked me where I wanted to / I said “yeah right, like you need a map!” The second verse finds the botched seduction with Prince getting turned down in favor of his girl getting stoned. “I said “Carrie, do you wanna dance?” / She said “mmm hmm, yeah, like later man. First let me smoke this weed.” / “I said “Damn! My cologne ain’t sayin’ shit if this is what she needs.” The bridge comes around and Prince finally gets laid. “Now boys and girls for the graphic part / Close your ears if you ain’t got a nasty heart.” He continues by slipping a condom on and having premature ejaculation! “Take a glove and fill it with hot baby lotion and slip it on / Pull it tight / That’s what Carrie was like / 1 stroke and I was done.” Despite being super funky, the song got shelved and has been circulating in sub-par sound quality among die-hards for 20 years – until now! He could never release a song like this now, because a Bill Cosby-like investigation of sex with underage girls would surely come up (and maybe it should? Just sayin’).
- Diamonds and Pearls. One of the big hits off the album, after all these years, it comes a huge surprise to hear a Prince-only version of the song. The officially released version features Rosie Gaines mirroring Prince’s lyrics and she has her big solo in the middle of the song when she sings “D to the I to the A to the M / O to the N to the D to the Pearls of Love.” This version features music only during that part and your brain will still hear Rosie when that part comes on. I’d also like to take this time to give a shout out to the video, where during this part, Prince jumps off a couch and does the splits. BAD ASS!
- Strollin‘. Again, not much different than the officially released version, but a slightly different mix. What was great about this song was that Prince showed the world that he could master any style of music from rock to funk and light jazz, in this case, often all in the same album. Not many people did that then, and certainly not that many people do it now. That’s yet another reason Prince is so great!
- Interlude (Joyful Sound). This has been circulating as part of an early mix of “Willing and Able” among fans, and it’s basically just a false start and stop to the next track.
- Willing and Able. Prince and the NPG take you to church with this song as Tommy Barbarella’s organ is featured prominently. The officially released version featured backing vocals by The Steeles, giving the song an extra gospel vibe, but this version features only Prince on vocals. The Tony M. rap verse at the end of the song is also absent and instead we hear that organ solo I previously mentioned.
- Insatiable. This is the jewel in the crown of this set as this version of the sexy single is dramatically different. The music is more sparse, to give it a late night jam feeling, and while the vocals on the verses and chorus are the same, the second verse was cut out of the officially released version (despite the lyrics appearing in the CD booklet). As the song discusses Prince’s insatiable appetite for sex, he also talks about filming his lover for their tryst and as you hear the song, you will submit to any request Prince makes of you! The ad-libbing at the end of the song is quite different too, and Prince admits that he’s had too much wine, perhaps the only time in his entire catalog he’s admitted that he is wasted. An interesting historical document even if Prince’s ballads aren’t your thing.
- Money Don’t Matter 2Night. The mix is different, but otherwise the politically charged track is the same.
- Horny Pony. The track was eventually scrapped to make room for the hit song “Gett Off,” and later became the b-side to “Cream,” which was not on the first draft of this album! A bootleg version that is different than the b-side version has circulated among collectors for many years, and this version is different to that one! Gotta love Prince! It is closer to the bootleg version than the b-side version, with different lyrics than the one that got released, but this version is more stripped back and is a lot funkier than both other versions.
- Live 4 Love. The final track on both this and the officially released version of “Diamonds and Pearls.” This version is slightly different from the original version that has been in circulation and much different to the officially released version. The lyrics are much more sleepy sounding, versus the released version that finds Prince asserting the lyrics much more forcefully. The robotic intro is gone from this version and once again Tony M.’s rap verse is nowhere to be found. The lyrics are also a lot different in several places and the song is about 1 minute shorter than the track that saw the light of day in 1991.
As you listen to this bootleg, you hear a whole different side to Prince, and again, the things he decided to throw away are often better than the best tracks from artists which we shall not name! It’s really remarkable. While the casual fan probably cannot comprehend how prolific this man is, die-hards across the world are simultaneously losing their minds as another puzzle piece of the genius known as Prince is revealed.
Photos by G.
Weekend Update Desk – SNL Exhibit
It’s hard to believe that the sketch comedy TV show Saturday Night Live celebrated its 40th year on the air in 2015. A major retrospective exhibit was put together to honor this milestone, and naturally, it’s in New York. Entitled SNL – The Exhibition, if you have ever been a fan of the show, you are sure to get your money’s worth as you will be taken through the process of putting the show together, see all kinds of cool ephemera from the 40 years of the show as well as major set pieces and costumes of a lot of the most beloved characters.
A display case featuring many SNL commercial parodies including Super Bass O Matic and Colon Blow
Before I leave you to enjoy a lot of pictures from the exhibit, let me say that you will be reminded of the brilliance of the show and you will laugh out loud as you relive clips from some of the funniest moments of the shows illustrious history. The exhibit will take about an hour to go through it all and you are allowed to take non-flash photos of all of the items and you can even sit on the actual “Wayne’s World” set or the Weekend Update anchor desk (but they charge an extra fee for that one), plus there is a gift shop (which you exit through – ha!), so you can buy your loved ones SNL-themed merch if that floats your boat.
And now, live from According2g.com…. It’s Saturday Night… the exhibit!
SNL (Good for photo ops!)
Church Lady Costume
Dick in a Box costume
SNL Costumes including Barry Gibb costume, Matt Foley Motivational Speaker, Opera Man, Coneheads
Baby Spanx / Oops! I Crapped My Pants Adult Diapers
Eddie Murphy Buckwheat Costume – SNL Exhibit
G on the Wayne’s World Set. Photo by Gail.
Gilly Costume – SNL Exhibit
Celebrity Jeopardy Set
Cast Member Photos of the Not Ready For Prime Time Players
Layout of the hosts and musical guests for the 1993 season.
Click to enlarge so you can see the list of amazing musical guests that were on in the 1993 season. One of my only complaints of the exhibit was they were very light on the music guest ephemera. Aside from a Lady Gaga costume and mini TV screens that showed some performance highlights from each season (but positioned in a way you couldn’t really watch them for too long), there was almost nothing of the historical music performances that took place on the show.
The Opening Monologue Stage
The Control Room
Wayne and Garth Costumes – SNL Exhibit
Turd Furguson (Photo by Gail)
The Saturday Night Live exhibit is showing through the end of 2015 at 417 5th Avenue in Manhattan (between 37th and 38th Street). You can probably find cheaper tickets than the suggested price on the official website if you do a little googling. These pictures are just a sample of what is on display, so if you are an SNL fanatic, do not miss this exhibit!
Photo, Video and Words by G.
My love of Mac Demarco goes back several years, and it was delightful to see him again performing the first show of a sold out mini-tour of New York that found him playing Bowery Ballroom on August 17, 2015. As I’ve been seeing Mac Demarco live since he was virtually unknown, it warms my heart tremendously to see him selling out shows across the globe, with his fans crooning along to his love songs in admiration. Even one of his famous friends, Julian Casablancas of the Strokes, popped by on stage just to give Mac a hug.
It’s also crazy to think that Mac Demarco now has a catalog of over 40 songs to choose from for his sets, so now you will walk away from his shows thinking of all the great songs there was no time to play! However, he played the majority of his new EP “Another One” and favorites like “Salad Days,” “Cookin’ Up Something Good,” “Viceroy,” “Still Together” and his cover of “Reelin’ in The Years.” Trust me, if you don’t have all of Mac Demarco’s music, you really need to get on it. I think he is shaping up to be the voice of a generation.
If you don’t believe me, listen and watch this track that I recorded just for you, dear readers. The song is called “Just To Put Me Down?” and can be found on Mac Demarco’s latest EP, “Another One.” Love ya, Mac! May even more success be yours!
Photos and words by G.
Boy George of Culture Club
1980s music titans Culture Club are back. They slayed New York last night, July 27, 2015, with the first of two sold out shows at the Beacon Theatre in Manhattan. Here are 5 things I observed at the show:
Boy George of Culture Club
1. Culture Club have so many great songs! When I arrived at the Beacon Theatre, a DJ was spinning 1980s music remixed with modern beats, which set the mood for an incredibly good time. At the stroke of 8:30, Boy George, Mikey Craig, Roy Hay and Jon Moss, better known as Culture Club, hit the stage. A video montage of Culture Club’s highs and lows preceded the band coming out and then they pummeled the crowd with hit after hit. If you had the pleasure to be alive when these songs came out, you remember that these tracks were so massive, the radio all but played them to death. When you see songs as beloved as these performed in a large concert hall, the enthusiasm of the crowd makes you fall in love with them all over again.
Roy Hay and Boy George
Kicking off with “Church of the Poison Mind,” the entire night was a giant sing-a-long, with the audience losing its mind during classic tracks such as “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya,” “It’s a Miracle,” “Miss Me Blind,” “Time (Clock of the Heart),” “Move Away,” fan favorite “Black Money,” “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” and the song that the audience went the most bonkers over, “Karma Chameleon.” Two of Boy George’s solo hits, covers of “Everything I Own and “The Crying Game” were also played to much adulation from the crowd. David Bowie’s “Starman,” which was included on Culture Club’s first reunion album in 2001, closed out the show. But the night was not all nostalgia, Culture Club is working on a new record and 6 songs were aired, including the self reflective “Like I Used To,” “Different Man,” “Let Somebody Love You,” and their latest single “More Than Silence.”
Boy George of Culture Club
2. Culture Club’s music transports you back to a time where things were not disposable. As Boy George pointed out on stage, the world is finally starting to get its first taste of sexual equality and this was the world Boy George has wanted to create and live in since the onset of his career. When you think of how far we’ve come since Culture Club debuted in 1982, you realize how many barriers were broken down by this band. How many other bands do you know that were multi-racial, straight, had an extremely outspoken, openly gay lead singer and had crossover appeal throughout the world? Not many! Boy George has always been uncompromising in his stance on being yourself under any circumstance and not giving a fuck what anyone thinks of you. In a time where you faced much more persecution from your peers and the media for being flamboyant, out and proud than you do today, gay culture owes a huge debt of gratitude to Boy George for never backing down.
3. Culture Club shows still attract a widely diverse audience. I’ve seen the band together and Boy George solo on many occasions, and you will rarely find a more diverse crowd. Last night, you could readily find young and old people, gay, straight and of all races and that is a great thing. I think the audience had a collective realization of all these things I said after “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” was played and the ovation after the song went on for several minutes and Boy George even had to tell the audience to stop cheering because he was about to get emotional from the outpouring of love.
Roy Hay and Mikey Craig
4. Culture Club has aged really well. From the songs still sounding amazing, to the fact that the band looks great and well preserved, Culture Club may have only had a few hit albums, but they left a permanent mark in music history. Boy George famously had drug and legal problems for many years and not only was he in good shape physically, he also sounded great. His voice is a little huskier than it used to be, but he can still hit the notes and he still lets you have it with his witty onstage banter, his numerous costume changes and his “it quality” as a performer.
5. I would be remiss if I didn’t get up on my soap box to complain about the excessive amount of selfie and picture taking that went on. I am guilty of taking photos as much as the next person, but there is one slight difference – I use an actual camera (which is cheaper than an iPhone and light and compact to carry around) and I bring this up because I do not have to block other people’s views to take my pictures. What exactly are the people doing with all these photos and videos they are taking? Certainly not blogging about them for a worldwide audience to read! Cell phone photos come out much worse than camera photos. Also, they are much more obtrusive and people literally don’t seem to care at all about anyone around them, because the only way to get a photo is to hold the device over your head, which blocks the view of EVERYONE behind you. Take as many photos as you like and I don’t care if you watch the entire show through the back of your phone – but PLEASE PAY ATTENTION to your surroundings!!!!! So many times in the show, Boy George came over to our side to serenade us and his face was cock blocked by everyone around me holding up their fucking phones and even worse, their giant iPads!!! Boy George complained about this during his last solo tour and I wish he would have said something about it last night because it’s plain excessive – and it’s happening at every concert I go to, and as I go to a lot of shows, it’s starting to become a deal breaker for me.
The irony is that many of the concert goers should know better because when this music came out, it was not a digital age and we actually had to live in the moment and experience the concert. I guess some nostalgia is conveniently forgotten.
Roy Hay, Jon Moss, Mikey Craig of Culture Club
The setlist was:
Church of the Poison Mind / It’s A Miracle / I’ll Tumble 4 Ya / Let Somebody Love You / Everything I Own / Like I Used To / Move Away / Black Money / Victims / Human Zoo / Time (Clock of the Heart) / Different Man / Miss Me Blind / I Just Want To Be Loved / The Crying Game / Do You Really Want To Hurt Me? / More Than Silence
Crowd Sing-a-Long of Karma Chameleon / Runaway Train / Karma Chameleon
Boy George – He’s a star, man!