(14) bulletboys, "smooth up in ya"
(14) tesla, "love song"
and will play in march shredness
Read the essays, watch the videos, listen to the songs, feel free to argue below in the comments or tweet at us, and consider. Winner is the aggregate of the poll below and the @marchshredness twitter poll. Polls closed @ 9am Arizona time on Feb 2, 2018.
The MTV night belonged to Headbanger’s Ball. Now say you were given to rock, and the rock you made was pretty hard, even owed a debt to Zep or Aerosmith, but—no reason to be ashamed of it— perhaps your rock just didn’t aspire to be King Diamond demonic enough for the Ball. There was still a 5:00 PM half-hour slot for you on Music Television: Hard 30. Tesla of Sacramento were a Hard 30 band. After all, didn’t the late afternoon suit them best? That sacred space in which the school-age rocker and their 9 to 5 parent-rockers might cross paths in front of the CRT television, swaying sweetly like stems of Sacramento alfalfa, in tandem to “Love Song,” its anthemic chorus offering the reassurance that “love will find a way?” The music video is a celebration of the touring life. These things always emphasize the sweat, the sacrifice, and the logistics of putting on a show. At one point, the camera focuses on the unrolling of a giant rug, and you can’t tell if it’s roadies or the actual band doing it, that’s how down to earth these guys are. The rug unrolling, the teamwork that goes into it—it’s just wholesome. They might as well be pounding spikes down on a big top. In The Cure’s video for their similarly titled “Lovesong,” which came out the same year, the band can’t even be bothered to stand, instead they laze amid these weird stalagmites. Now Tesla on the other hand, these are farm-country fellas who drink large gulps of milk out of the gallon jug.
In the coda to “Sweet Child O’ MIne” Axl Rose asked, “Where do we go now?” Suddenly, in the context of the power ballad, Axl was giving voice to this left-field paranoia. “Where do we go now” was circumspect, it was pure fear, this question that only hangs in suspension, never to receive an answer. Bulletboys’ Marq Torien doesn’t hesitate, he “ain’t got that kinda time.” “I wanna, I wanna go,” he says. “Smooth Up in Ya” is a muscular bite of pop candy, equal parts Ratt (Torien served time some time in an early lineup) and Extreme (not “More Than Words” Extreme, but the funk-leaning moments). A lot of critics compared Bulletboys to Van Halen, which I think may have had more to do with Marq Torien’s lion-hair then the actual music, which wasn’t so much a showcase for virtuosity as it was a raw pheromonal secretion in the grand rock n’ roll tradition that gave us “Be-Bop-a-Lula” and “Helter Skelter.”
Gabriel Palacios is a poet and musician from Tucson, where he is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Arizona. His poems study how the violence of the Spanish Colonial era might surface in the present-day Southwest, like ghostly superimpositions in spirit photography.
At ten he begged his parents to buy him a Skid Row T-shirt bearing a cartoon image of the Mona Lisa in tattoos and a nose-chain. “IT AIN’T ART IT’S ROCK ’N’ ROLL,” the shirt declared.