Rock Spectacle by Barenaked Ladies (1996)

10Jan11

In case you needed any further proof that the music turtle is actually a 30-something white guy, I present to you Exhibit A: my love for Rock Spectacle. If I had to pick one music album to define my college years, this is the one. I know that makes me a total wuss…so when you’re done making fun of me, please burn me a copy of the Cranberries or Boyz II Men CD sitting on the shelf next to you. That’s what I thought.

I don’t know if it was the slow stuff like ‘Break Your Heart’ and ‘Jane’ that got me, or if it was the goofier tracks like ‘Hello City’ and ‘If I Had $1,000,000’. But somewhere along the way I decided that this was the perfect live music album, and I would listen to it at full volume every Friday night as my roommates and I were getting ready to go out and pretend that we were grown-ups. But forget the fact that it’s a good, fun live album. These guys were talking to me! Who didn’t want to meet a girl like Jane? What if you really, genuinely, for real had $1,000,000? (cut to Samir in Office Space saying “I would invest it”) Why did you plaster over the hole I punched in the door?

OK maybe these questions are a little lame in retrospect. But in the late 90’s when I had NO F-ING CLUE what I was doing, I think I benefited from listening to BNL sing this honestly about their relationships and life questions. We’re all young and dumb at some point, and if you’re looking for depth and answers in art or music, BNL’s probably a pretty decent go-to band. I appreciate that they take this responsibility seriously…it’s not accidental that their messages are presented the way they are: clean lyrics for the most part, an overall positive/polite demeanor, and when the topic shifts to drugs or suicide they make sure you know that the tone is serious. They’re like your cool uncle who buys you beer, but talks to you about it so you know not to do anything stupid. Plus these guys are really fun in concert…half of the show is music, and the rest of the time they BS with each other about underwear or show video of something goofy they did backstage. Here, have a Fruit Roll-Up!

Rock Spectacle is the only music album I own where I know the live tracks as how the songs “are supposed to sound”. Seriously…listening to the studio versions of these songs is a buzzkill. Where are the backing vocals from the crowd? Where are the on-stage reverb and harmonies? BNL have plenty of good studio albums (more reviews to come), but nothing matches the accessibility and quality of Rock Spectacle. It’s perfect!

music turtle recommends: BUY IT!

What do you think about this album? Comment below

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One Response to “Rock Spectacle by Barenaked Ladies (1996)”

  1. 1 trojananteater

    i dont have boys II men or cranberries on my desk. i have vanilla ice and fine young cannibals


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