You know, it’s funny. I’ve long sung the praises of Metallica in this space. I’ve always thought, even as I branched out and discovered more metal bands, that they were one of the greatest, for those first five releases alone. But not long ago, something happened that made me wonder about some things.
What was that?
Well, I went and bought the new Megadeth album, Dystopia. And quite simply, it freaking destroys. With the umpteenth lineup change, to boot, as drummer Shawn Drover was replaced with Lamb of God’s Chris Adler, and guitarist Chris Broderick was replaced with Angra guitarist Kiko Loureiro after the former members’ respective resignations from the band.
Now, I don’t know how good or bad the albums were that Megadeth made between the ones with the classic lineup (Dave Mustaine, Nick Menza, David Ellefson, and Marty Friedman) and 2009’s Endgame. But I have heard various songs from those albums and liked them all, but I know that a lot of the time one or two songs might not be enough to judge the whole album. But I can tell you that two of the three albums released at least since 2009 — Endgame and Thir13en — were pretty damn good. (I wasn’t terribly keen on what I heard from Super Collider.)
Meanwhile, Metallica has released one album in the last 7 1/2 years, and as good as it was, we haven’t gotten anything from them since other than an EP of unreleased songs from the Death Magnetic sessions. Not just that, but also, if we’re gonna be quite honest about it, Metallica effectively delivered only one album of original music worth listening to between the Black Album and now. And it makes me wonder what the hell’s going on. I heard a friend say that James Hetfield has been burned out since The Black Album, and quite frankly, it’s the only thing that makes sense. (Sure, Cracked might try to tell you that Reload was okay because the band still plays “Fuel” live, but as I’ve put it before, while that song was okay, it’s certainly no “Creeping Death.”) They say that the best revenge is living well, and I gotta say, if you define “living well” as “making good music for a much longer period of time than the band you got fired from,” Dave Mustaine has most certainly gotten his.
I was at Whataburger one day last week, having my customary morning coffee, as my ears were being assaulted by Florida-Georgia Line’s “Sun Daze,” with the line, “rock a little bit of hip-hop and Haggard and Jagger.” I’ve said before that that whole country/hip-hop mixtape/cd/playlist is one of the more inauthentic tropes, as you’re not gonna get me to believe for a minute that Tyler Hubbard is going to be spinning Merle Haggard beside N.W.A or that Luke Bryan plays Conway Twitty followed by T-Pain. But you know what it made me think of? This:
“If you like Lynyrd Skynyrd on the radio, let me know and I’ll sing you ‘Free Bird’. I like Johnny Cash, Grandmaster Flash, I’m name droppin’ like you never heard.”
And then there was this comment from Saving Country Music on the Triggerman’s review of the duo’s new single:
this Florida Georgia line song is exhibit A of why you leave the religious songwriting to Jews like Bob Dylan (gotta serve somebody; slow train coming), Leonard Cohen (hallelujah), Irving Berlin (White Christmas), and Kinky Friedman (they don’t make Jews like Jesus anymore), and to Muslims like Yusef Islam / Cat Stevens (peace train) and Richard Thompson (don’t renege on our love).
So we can add to the list of FGL’s myriad sins the fact that they make an unknown number of alleged real music fans forget about the existence of Billy Joe Shaver. “You Just Can’t Beat Jesus Christ”? “Live Forever”? Sheesh…
Sabra and I both follow Jason Boland on Facebook, but she beat me to the mention of this, but apparently Mr. Boland named his dog Gary Stewart, after Mr. “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles)” himself. A couple of days later it occurred to me to go looking on Amazon, and what do I find but his landmark 1975 album Out of Hand available for download.
Worth the money?
You bet it was, for the three singles alone. I’ve long thought that if I never heard “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles)” again I wouldn’t miss it a bit. Much like Marty Robbins and “El Paso,” it seems like radio thinks that is the only song he ever did. But much like “El Paso,” it works a lot better in the context of the album. His version of “Backsliders Wine” was the first one I ever heard, and still the best. (As a bit of an aside, it’s amusing to think that song and “Wildfire” were both written by the same person.)
But still, after all these years, my favorite Gary Stewart song ever has to be this album’s title track.
(Fun fact about that song: one of its writers, Jeff Barry, was a co-writer of some of the biggest pop hits of the 1960s, among them The Crystals’ “Then He Kissed Me,” the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” the Dixie Cups’ “Chapel of Love,” the Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack,” and the Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar,” which was later recorded by Wilson Pickett.)