December 24, 2003
Never Gonna Stop: The antidote to music piracy is in ROB ZOMBIEís hands of death. So says Josh Jabcuga. Also inside this action-packed issue of Squib Central: AUDIOSLAVE, KORN, and the obligatory references to hookers and blow.
It seems that everybody and their cousins is a downloading junkie these days. Can you blame íem? At the click of a mouse, kids have immediate access to a virtually unlimited selection of songs to add to their musical libraries. Artists and labels are sweating it. Itís quite possibly the most controversial issue in music since, well, the advent of rock Ďn roll itself.
Whatís the general consensus? Burn, baby, burn, just donít get caught doing it, right? Myself, Iím not big with the downloading. Do I take part? You can bet your Metallica albums on it. Like most fanboys, though, Iím a ďcompletist.Ē If itís something I truly enjoy, I need the official release, the album. Call me old school, but I need the package, the lyrics, the artwork, and whatever else artists and studios decide to cram in the album. And thatís the secret, the secret to getting consumers to fork over their cash for the real deal, and not download, or even get a burned copy from one of their friends.
The funny thing is nobody seems to have figured this recipe for success out just yet, at least no one quite as masterfully as Rob Zombie. Yes, Rob Zombie, director of HOUSE OF A 1000 CORPSES. For the record, Iím a casual Zombie fan. I appreciate his style, but his music can be about as filling as a bowl of candy corn. I dig it, but you know, thereís a time and a place for it. However, I think Iím also one of the few people that actually admittedly enjoyed his directorial debut (enjoyed it immensely to be sure). Honestly, I thought it was (bloody) brilliant. Derivative, sure, but what isnít these days? What, you were expecting GONE WITH THE WIND? Get a fucking clue, Scarlett.
Recently Rob Zombie released his greatest hits package, and let me say, itís quite the package. Titled PAST, PRESENT, & FUTURE, itís a fun and comprehensive look into the career of one of rockís geniuses of camp. Zombieís work is more in the vein of Alice Cooper than Marilyn Manson, and thatís fine. As Alice Cooper says in the liner notes, ďTo be able to balance lyrics, sonics, visuals, humor, horror, and make it work?
Few can do that.Ē Indeed, few can do that, and no one has made it work quite so well since Cooper himself back in the Ď70s. Ozzy Osbourne treaded those waters in the mid-to-late í80s, especially with the sloppy BARK AT THE MOON, the embarrassing THE ULTIMATE SIN, and the undervalued NO REST FOR THE WICKED, but that foray was more in the dangerous territory of self-parody (a result of booze and drugs and some career misguidance) rather than intentional artistic craftsmanship.
As far as Marilyn Manson, he took himself way too seriously to ever be considered camp. He was more of a shock-rocker, with the emphasis on shock. Heís only now beginning to understand that, since his fans have either given up or have grown up. (Iím sure Iíll be getting some severed goatheads in the mail over that one.)
Zombie, though, has always seemed like heís been having a good time. And he seems like a true fanboy at heart. Maybe a fanboy living out the ultimate dream, much like Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriquez. Some of the best art out there in popular culture is created by the people that grew up reading FAMOUS MONSTERS or watching HAMMER films,--the ones that coveted pop culture like it was the thing of Scripture. Zombie was clearly in thatÖcamp.
So back to the future, PAST, PRESENT, & FUTURE, that is. The attractive package (the cover, a painted portrait of Rob Zombie is an homage to the aforementioned magazine FAMOUS MONSTERS), comes with two discs, one CD and one DVD. Disc one is labeled ďmusic.Ē Itís loaded with nineteen tracks, two of which were previously unreleased, ďTwo-lane BlacktopĒ and ďGirl on Fire.Ē The songs span Zombieís career, featuring his work with White Zombie, music from his solo days, and includes soundtrack cuts. It also features appearances by Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Howard Stern (yes, that Howard Stern), and Lionel Richie (ditto).
Disc Two, labeled ďVideosĒ includes ten music videos. This alone is worth the price of admission. Thereís the classic ďThunder Kiss í65,Ē made infamous by the BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD SHOW (arenít they do for a comeback?), ďMORE HUMAN THAN HUMAN,Ē and ďDRAGULAĒ (as in THE MUNSTERSí family car) among others. Thereís also a nifty little tribute to Stanley Kubrickís A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. I was always a fan of Zombieís videos, but when you view them in their entirety, back-to-back, you gain a new appreciation for his vision. And yes, the man is a visionary of sorts. Donít believe me? Tell me this: When you caught your first glimpse of ďTHUNDER KISS í65Ē on MTV way back when, did you think youíd still be reading about Rob Zombie in 2004? Not only that, but with a sequel to HOUSE OF A 1000 CORPES in the works and his CREEPS brand (co founded with white-hot comic book scribe Steve Niles), did you ever once think the man would still be relevant (in a comicbook shop kinda of way, but relevant nonethelessÖand isnít that the best kind)?
So you may be asking yourself, how the hell does Rob Zombie hold the solution to the industryís disastrous problem of piracy? Itís a simple formula. One package: one CD, one DVD, a colorful booklet, less than fifteen bucks wherever you shop. I went out and bought (read: did not download or burn) the CD (Media Play, $12.99 I think). For the music industry, thatís downright priceless. Rob Zombie made it impossible for me not to buy the damn thing. It had too much going for it for me to simply walk away without it in my hands. I had to have it. And you should do. Itís that cool.
So kudos to Rob Zombie. As for all the other performers out there, when will you people learn? You have to give kids more than the music these days to get them to buy your music. Itís weird, I know, maybe even a bit tragic, but thatís the world we live in. Deal with it or stop bitching that you canít afford your vacation home in France anymore, the one stocked with all the blow and three thousand dollar-a-night hookers.
Audioslave recently offered up a DVD to fans. Whatís on it? Three music videos, one very brief documentary that was probably a left-over promo kit sent to music critics, and two songs from their live performance on top of David Lettermanís studios. Thatís five songs total. MTV2 pretty much aired the entire thing last Christmas, for free. This cost me somewhere around ten bucks. Was it worth it? Placed next to Zombieís opus, no way. Toss that Audioslave DVD into the groupís debut CD and they might have sold a few more copies. Sure, it went platinum, but it probably could have done better, and a package like Zombieís would have helped.
Korn was on the right track when they released their latest offering, TAKE A LOOK IN THE MIRROR. To combat downloaders and ďburners,Ē the initial run of the album was a special version including a free bonus DVD. Sadly, itís mostly an advertisement for the bandís other work. It includes something called ďKorn Kut Up.Ē Whatís that, you ask? A montage of video clips from their music video catalogue. Brief clips, and then at the end itís announced that if you want to see all of the Korn videos in their entirety, you have to buy the Korn DEUECE DVD. Lame. Itís nothing more than a glorified promo for the bandís DEUCE DVD, folks. I felt like my Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring just told me to make sure that I drink all of my Ovaltine. Hey Korn, kut it out.
Granted, I already bought the CD, but Iím a working adult. I drop bushels of cash on CDs every week (and on blow and hookers). (Itís a sickness, Iím well aware of that.) I can afford to, though. If I was a thirteen year old punk, though, things would be different. And thereís nothing on the new Korn album that would persuade me to buy the album when I could just burn it for free. To the studio heads with their graying hairs and the artists out there who are shaking their fists at the thought of kids taking money out of their own Prada wallets, donít think for a moment that if you were thirteen years old with very limited funds (probably an allowance, right), and you had the option to get a flawless copy of CD for free, much like all of your classmates, and probably from your classmates, or the option to spend your fourteen bucks on something you might not even like, that you wouldnít choose the former? Youíre a liar (or a studio head in denial) if you think otherwise.
And kids, in closing, hereís a bit of advice. Donít buy Kornís LOOK IN THE MIRROR. Buy Rob Zombieís PAST, PRESENT, & FUTURE instead. Buy it. If youíve already got the Zombie album, download the Korn CD or get a burned copy of it. Save your money for some issues of FAMOUS MONSTERS instead.
When Josh Jabcuga isnít getting wasted with cheap blow and even cheaper hookers, heís writing Squib Central, which is available (free to download) every Thursday, only at www.moviepoopshoot.com.
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