I realize it's nerdy to care, but it was nice to see Tremble entries make the "best of 2005" lists for a couple of sites that have no shortage of things to link to. The Internet's truest gent, Jason Kottke included 'How To Avoid The Exhausting Planning And Preparation That Goes Into Making A Second Date', and Screenhead name-checked the ancient - but - still - makes - the - rounds - every - now - and - again 'United States According to My Racist Aunt.' Thanks, fellas.
I didn't make a "best of" list this year because I was a bit busy unpacking boxes, drilling holes (not a euphemism), caulking sinks (not a euphemism), and eating 300 pounds of Christmas fudge (sadly, a euphemism). But just under the wire, on New Year's Eve my friend Jon turned me on to the best album of the year: Paul Stanley's "People, Let Me Get This Off My Chest." It's not a musical album, thankfully, but 70 tracks (about 60 minutes) of the most embarrassing rock show crowd work courtesy of Kiss' aging Star Child. It includes classics like "How many people out there like to take a taste of ALCOHOL!!!!?" (as part of a long lead-up to "Cold Gin") and a special lecture to all those fans in Atlantic City who might feel a bit shy to sing along:
Young people I know what it feels like. You're afraid to sing because you think the cool person next to you isn't gonna sing. Then you find out the cool person's singin' and you're not!
I think it's sweet but maybe a bit naive of Paul Stanley to expect that somewhere in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in a crowd of people who have paid over $40 to see ONE member of KISS perform a bunch of his solo songs about 25 years after his peak, you might be able to look next to you and find a cool person.
I also really love bands that set up all their big hits with incredibly long stories that use the name of the song as the kicker. Paul Stanley does this again and again. Some artists are very well suited to that kind of onstage behavior. For instance, I would be willing to bet Bob Seger sets up his song "Old Time Rock and Roll" by telling the crowd of middle-aged fans who still punch their clocks at JiffyLube, "You know what? I don't like that new time rock and roll. But I'll tell you what I do like? Do you wanna know what I like?..." (cue: piano thumps and a guy who, from 300 feet away, might look a little like Tom Cruise sliding across the stage in sweat socks, Hanes briefs, an oxford shirt and Ray-Bans.)
A band like Nirvana, on the other hand, probably never had Kurt Cobain stop a tune-up to ask the audience, "Does anyone smell that? Do you smell that, boys? Dave Grohl, tell me: are you smelling it? It don't smell like Arid Xtra Dry! No, Krist Novolesic, that don't smell like Speed Stick by Mennen. It smells—I SAID IT SMELLLLLLS—I think it smells like...TEEN SPIRIT!!" (cue: guitar crunch and Tom Cruise look-alike.)
If you're interested, here's a sample from the Paul Stanley album. iTunes calls it "Track 14" but I'm calling it:
And, as a bonus, here's a little track I like to call:
"COLD GIN 2: THE DRINK-ENING!"