Category Archives: Free Press

Warrior Soul, Last Decade Dead Century (1990)

Part three of Thunderegg’s hot new series, Albums I Reviewed in the High School Paper. This Microsoft Word 4.0 file was dated September 15, 1990.

Warrior Soul
Last Decade Dead Century

“You live for nowhere
You live for garbage
You live for hatred
You live for your own little twisted underprivileged morsels…
A lost existence.”

After listening to Last Decade Dead Century, Warrior Soul’s debut album, one may gather that the group is…hmm, maybe…pissed off? What’s most interesting, though, is that when other bands tend to complain about government and oppression, Warrior Soul aims its grumpiness at every single person living in the world. Like a cynical great-grandfather, this band hates everybody (except, possibly, “The Losers”) and makes no apologies for its behavior.

But that’s what makes Last Decade Dead Century so fantastic. The lyrics are complimented perfectly by the waves of knashing guitars that, due to their holy loudness, may only be compared with the clout of Soundgarden. Vocalist Kory Clarke’s delivery is, quite suitably, packed with enough angst to power a metropolis, and the rhythm section is unrelenting in its throbbing attack.

Every song on the album is a delightful cross-breed of political consciousness and straight-out groovalistic metal. If you’re looking for a smarmy, Aerosmith-esque power ballad, you won’t find it here: But if Kick-Out-the-Jams metal plod is your bag, you need go no farther. Tracks like “Superpower Dreamland,” “In Conclusion,” and “Downtown” hold a brilliant feel for melody while keeping their grungy outlook—while some tracks, like “Trippin’ on Ecstasy,” could even, ultimately, find their way to the world of Dancefloor Hell.

In the unfair world of metal, it is hard to say whether a “real” band such as Warrior Soul (as opposed to a “glam” band like Warrant) will gain mass acceptance. If Faith No More’s recent popularity gives any indication, Warrior Soul might have a chance.

But due to its cynical nature, it is doubtful that Warrior Soul would give a damn anyway. Buy it.

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Bullet Lavolta, The Gift (1989)

Part two of Thunderegg’s hot new series, Albums I Reviewed in the High School Paper. This Microsoft Word 4.0 file was dated May 21, 1990.

Bullet Lavolta
The Gift

After listening to singer Yukki Gipe’s ear-piercing, mind-bending shriek in the beginning of the track “Over the Shoulder,” it is easy to tell that Bullet Lavolta is indeed a very special band. The Gift, a thirteen-song combination of both new and prereleased works, is a masterpiece of sheer loudness—a solidarity of punk and melodic hard rock that can make any listener’s hair (and parents) stand at attention. Ken Chambers, one of two domineering guitarists, was originally frontsman for Boston’s Moving Targets, considered by WPRB disk Jockey Jon Solomon to be “the best rock band in the twentieth…well, the eighties.” The album starts with a bang. “X Fire” simply kicks with its rocking riffs and Gipe’s accompanying walloping vocals. The second song, “Over the Shoulder,” fascinates with its rhythmic tacets that last just long enough for the listener to do a windmill on his air guitar. (Incidentally, it was these two songs that were in this reviewer’s head during his little bicycle accident. Maybe the tunes’ energy contributed to his reckless cycling, but this will never be proven.) Other cuts, like “One Room Down,” “Trapdoor,” and the title track do little to diminish the conception that this Beantown quintet knows nothing better than high decibel ranges. Of all the songs, though, “Blind to You,” while just as clamorous as the others, tends to stand out because of its dark mood and dynamic transition. The Gift, put simply, rocks. Buy it and cherish it.

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Trouble, s/t (1990)

Part one of Thunderegg’s hot new series, Albums I Reviewed in the High School Paper. This Microsoft Word 4.0 file was dated February 15, 1990.

Trouble
Trouble

Although not quite world-renowned yet, the new metallic group, Trouble, has already gained quite a following in homeroom 274. Combining the sheer thunder of Metallica with a vast sense of melodic flow, Trouble should become one of 1990’s most popular bands. The album reaches out and straps the listener into his seat from the opening chord of “At the End of My Daze,” and does not release its hold until the final chorus of “All Is Forgiven” has faded. “At the End” features the menacing two-guitar attack and fantastic rotating stereo solos that have evolved into the group’s trademark. “The Wolf” could serve as a lullaby until its face changes to that of a very loud, though still tuneful, plea against war. (Yes, the group’s one problem seems to lie in the clichés of its lyrics.) Still, the song is excellent, and the words, ringing from the Robert Plant-like tones of Eric Wagner aren’t all that easily understood anyway. Other powerful tracks include “R.I.P.” and “Black Shapes of Doom”—both of which I had to turn up to maximum volume. Like Metallica, the members of Trouble have no difficulty in writing slower, more mellow songs. “The Misery Shows (Act II)” could become a classic, with as much Pink Floyd influence as Black Sabbath. “All is Forgiven,” though slightly more intense, presents brilliant guitar licks that are both tight and melodic. This album rocks. Buy it.

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1990’s Best Music . . . and Worst

THE BEST ALBUM OF 1990: GWAR—Scumdogs of the Universe

GWAR’s much-awaited major-label debut, Scumdogs of the Universe, is basically unlistenable. It is noisy, offensive, and stupid. And that’s why it’s so good. Scumdogs isn’t for everyone—in fact, one of the tracks, “Slaughterama,” shows that it may not be for anyone. If you buy the album, you’ll probably think it’s a joke. But with songs like “Death Pod,” “Horror of Yig,” and “The Salaminizer,” it is certain that GWAR would agree with the Roman poet Horace, who wrote, “What are you laughing at? The joke’s on you.”

Now, no one can touch GWAR. But in 1990, many artists came close. Here, THE FREE PRESS presents its staff selections for the best twenty albums of the year.

A Tribe Called Quest—People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm
Big Daddy Kane—Taste of Chocolate
John Doe—Meet John Doe
Eric B. and Rakim—Let the Rhythm Hit ’Em
Ice Cube—Amerikkka’s Most Wanted
Living Colour—Time’s Up
LL Cool J—Mama Said Knock You Out
Megadeth—Rust in Peace
Mother Love Bone—Apple
Bob Mould—Black Sheets of Rain
The Pogues—Hell’s Ditch
Lou Reed/John Cale—Songs for Drella
The Replacements—All Shook Down
Scatterbrain—Here Comes Trouble
Paul Simon—The Rhythm of the Saints
Sonic Youth—Goo
The Time—Pandemonium
24-7 Spyz—Gumbo Millennium
Neil Young and Crazy Horse—Ragged Glory
ZZ Top—Recycler

THE WORST ALBUM OF 1990: MC Hammer—Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ’Em

If Milli Vanilli are condemned for not singing their own lyrics, why isn’t Hammer condemned for not making his own music? Sampling can be an art form, but to him it’s a free lunch. And while Hammer concentrates on showy dance moves (and while record sales top seven million), his juvenile rhymes deteriorate more…as if that were possible.

Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ’Em is worse than a poor excuse for an album—it is no excuse for an album. But even barring beauts like The New Kids’ Step by Step and Nelson’s After the Rain—who expected anything from them, anyway—an all too vast number of 1990’s albums were just as horrible. Here are some of the worst.

The Black Crowes—Shake Your Money Maker
Andrew Dice Clay—The Day the Laughter Ended
Joe Cocker—One Night of Sin
Havana Black—Indian Warrior
Sam Kinison—Leader of the Banned
The Luke LP, featuring the Two Live Crew—Banned in the USA
Poco—Legacy
Roger Waters—The Wall 

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Nelson vs. Nelson: Triplets Separated at Birth?

In a much-quoted passage of Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare poses the eternal question,“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet.” Little did Shakespeare know that, almost four centuries later, his words would fit as perfectly as they did when they were first introduced to paper in 1597. For now, in this year of 1990, we have been presented with two milestone movements.

In February, South African political prisoner Nelson Mandela was freed after twenty-seven years in jail; while in June, pretty blonde twin rockers Matthew and Gunnar Nelson released their debut album, After the Rain. Truly, no two groups of similarly named people since the early 80’s outfield heyday of Gary Matthews and Garry Maddox have had as much in common as the two groups of Nelsons—Mandela on the one hand and Matthew and Gunnar on the other.

Apparently, both Nelsons were oppressed in their pasts. Mandela, imprisoned in 1963 for his militant leanings in the African National Congress (ANC), his self-formed radical anti-apartheid group, suffered through beatings, rigid discipline, and hard work in the institution; often, he had little hope of seeing his wife, Winnie, or his family ever again. Similarly, Gunnar and Matthew were beset with injustices: In 1982, at the tender ages of fourteen, their mother unmercifully would not let them play their guitars in the house. Fortunately, such unfairness was eluded by the clever young Nelsons. “As a result of her trying to sabotage our relationship with our music…she actually brought us closer [to it],” Gunnar later emphasized, with no small amount of scorn in his voice.

Perhaps it is their mutual popularity that makes the two Nelsons seem so similar. When Mandela visited the United States in July, 750,000 New Yorkers stormed to catch a glimpse of his face. In the same way, After the Rain has charted at number thirty on the Billboard Top Fifty—and the first release, the poignant and beautiful “Love and Affection,” has already risen to the eighth place on the U.S. Singles chart.

Matthew Nelson is described in Seventeen as “spiritual [and] metaphysical.” Could there be, then, a mental link between the Nelsons? Mandela’s faith in the spirit is not well publicized, but during his visit to New York he was described by Paul Mondesire as “as close to a devine human being as we’ll ever see.”

Maybe the obvious congruence between these men rests on more material matters. When in New York, Mandela was driven through the ticker-tape parade in a flatbed truck with a bullet-proof plexiglass shield atop it; New York police affectionately labelled it “The Mandelamobile.” Meanwhile, Gunnar and Matthew’s love for vintage Mustangs is well publicized. And in another similarity, Mandela voiced his love for the rock music of Tracy Chapman and Richie Havens while attending his anti-apartheid benefit concert at Yankee Stadium, and was described by Pastor Gardener Taylor as “the drum major in the music of freedom.” Gunnar and Matthew also possess deep rock roots—in addition to being the sons of 1950’s late rock legend Rick (“Hello Mary Lou”) Nelson, they claim that they are firmly influenced by such notable megabands as Foreigner.

The likeness betwixt Nelsons exists on an aesthetic level as well. Mandela, with his high forehead and long cheekbones, could easily be mistaken for either Gunnar or Matthew, who are identical twins. Mandela, rumor has it, has even begun to grow his hair to the waist-length stature the Nelson boys are able to boast. Or could the comparison rest purely upon the notion that all three men have the same color eyes?

But whether or not the Nelsons are triplets, it is obvious that their life theories rest upon the same principles of love and respect. When questioned about his sympathy for Fidel Castro, Mandela explained that he admired the Cuban leader for his “love of human rights and freedom.” While Nelson may not approach as political a topic (“Hey, we write about what we know,” Gunnar defends), anyone who watches MTV knows that the two singers simply “can’t live without your love.” Surely, there is no better way to agree with someone than over the feelings of love (and affection).

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How to Get into College, Part I

from WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD: A FRESHMAN’S GUIDE TO PRINCETON HIGH SCHOOL a.k.a. How To Get Into College, Part I, Presented by THE FREE PRESS

“Freshmen are vegetating blobs of protoplasm.” —E. Buckley

Mr. Buckley, the author of the pithy quip quoted above, retired folllowing the 1989-1990 school year. The reknowned World History teacher/freshman-basher’s departure is yet another symbol of the exciting new feeling around the high school: A suburban version, if you will, of glasnost. (“Glasnost” is Russian for “a melting down;” in this case, a melting down of older customs. If you had been watching the MacNeill/Lehrer Report instead of that Nelson video on MTV, you might have known that.) The mild lipstick attacks that formerly erupted on the first day of school have all but disappeared, and hazing is nonexistant. The Peer Group system, under which groups of freshmen meet with senior leaders, is thriving. (Well, sort of thriving. More on Peer Group later.) To be short, the mentality that freshmen are somehow inherently inferior is now considered gauche.

So don’t be nervous. The high school may look a little bigger than the middle school that you’ve come from. It is. (Though not by much.) So what? A great excuse for being late to class the first couple weeks is that you “got lost.” If you ham it up a little more and break down into tears, no teacher would be cruel enough to mark you tardy. Still, after half a day you’ll probably be able to navigate pretty well—then, the long learning period will have to begin.

Did you know that, according to USA Today, as an average American freshman you should have already recorded your top ten college choices, as well as your intended college major? Well, PHS, long recognized as an above-the-call-of-duty kind of place, refuses to settle for the asinine drivel that such throw-away journals tend to spout. As an average PHS freshman, you should not only know all that stuff, but you should have already applied, early action, to Harvard or Yale. We are not joking. Don’t try to check on your friends in a meager attempt to attain reassurance: They all lie, and you are the only freshman in your whole class who has no clear career goal. Where is my life heading, you cry in terror, Is my entire life down the well? Do I have a fighting chance?

Well, maybe. What you are holding in your hands could be the most powerful device ever endowed to a ninth-grade student. This packet, prepared dutifully by THE FREE PRESS, PHS’s completely independent, student-run newspaper, will tell you everything you really need to know in order to survive in this school. Sure, you may not be able to discern Britania from Britny Fox, but this guide will make you wiser in ways you never knew possible. So read on.

HARVARD UNIVERSITY
Attention: Director of Admissions
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138

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Some Observations on Having Two Broken Arms

“AAAAAAAH! HAAAA HAAAA HAAAA! DAMN, CUZ BROKE BOTH OF HIS ARMS, WHAT A STUPID-ASS, HAAAA, HAAAA…”

Terry Wooding’s jeering died out only because I walked away from him. I diverted my attention from the fading laughter and concentrated on the more urgent task at hand—getting to class. I kicked my locker closed with my foot, secured the velcro straps on my matching blue arm slings, and made my way toward the first floor. I had to wait outside the stairwell door until someone opened it for me. I felt pretty pathetic.

This was not an unwarranted feeling. The previous Friday, I had broken both (yes, that’s two) elbows in a well-publicized bike wreck on Route 206. After that, I came to school with my arms in bondage, cradled in two strangling slings. Here are some observations:

  • Teachers were very sympathetic—especially when I cried to them, whimpering that I couldn‘t possibly write the My Antonia in-class essay because…sniff…I might die if I tried. Even Mr. Manzer, who normally has a veritable book of busts lined up for me, told me that he was sorry I was hurt.
  • Princeton High School’s physical structure discriminates against people who have no arms. For one thing, there are too many doors to pull open.
  • If I had heard one more joke about my condition, I would have puked. How do you like this one: “Duh…if you pull your arms behind your back and move them back and forth, you look like a chicken! Duh, huh, huh,” or, “Hi, Colonel Sanders, Duh, huh, huh.” Then there were the millions of what I call “Oh…sorry” wisecracks—for example, “Hey, William, do you want to come out to play baseball? Oh…sorry. Duh, huh, huh.”
  • I almost booted in English class because the two slings around my neck made me gag.
  • Having arm slings was good for something: I was able to embezzle several hundred cookies fromt he junior bake sale by innocently dropping them into the blue caches. (Don’t even say that that’s stealing—after all, I did make the cookies so I felt I had a right to take them.)
  • My parents gave me rides wherever and whenever I wanted, and I never had to carry anything for weeks. My mother bought me everything my heart desired. My father didn’t mention school once for two weeks.

And now I sit at the computer, staring wistfully at the slings. They are sitting on the stool next to me, full of crumbs and two weeks’ worth of pen marks. Who knows? I may use them again. Even if I don’t need them.

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PHS’s Grammar Problem

Being that it is that I just took the SAT’s yesterday, and being that part of that aforementioned test involves the Test of Standard Written English (TSWE), and that after reading and examining, the questions and the test, respectively, I have realized that it is easy to make grammatical mistakes, I hereby present to you, after I finish writing this introduction, a paragraph containing the most common grammatical errors made at PHS. If you can find them all, it is that you would get most probably a 60+ on the TSWE; I am now wondering, why it is, that I only got a 17. 

Dear Jane,

OK—just remember that this letter is totally private—just between you and I. At this point in time, don’t let a single person even see it, not even if they pay you. I implied from your attitude toward Joe and I that you were angry with us. Is that what you were inferring? Listen, your recital was not boring, and I’m sorry if Joe and me would have been looking disinterested. It is hard for me to emphatically tell you that I apologize. I thought your recital was so well that I even taped it off George, whom recorded it with his complicated microphone system.

Well that’s all I have to tell to you. Do not forget that Peter and Me love you alot, and that you should love to Peter and I alot, also.

Love, Bobby

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PHS’s Best Bands

If you’re in a rock band, PHS can be a tough place. The competition is wicked, while the fans are ravenous. So, for player and fanatic alike, here is a list of the best twenty-five bands at Princeton High School. (Divided into categories, so no feelings get hurt.)

Hard Rock/Metal
1. Ledastray
2. Lettuce Tray
3. Led Ashtray
4. Let Us Pray
5. Let Us Stray
6. Red Ashtray
7. Dead-ass Lay
8. Ned Has Sprayed
9. Ted Is Spaid
10. Debt Is Paid
11. Jed Is Gay
12. Reg Will Stay
13. Lemon Clay
14. Phlegm In Bay
15. Leopard Bray

Alternative/Hard Core
1. Intensity
2. Intend City
3. In Tent City
4. Intense Kitty
5. In Trent’s Titty
6. Immense Pity
7. Tin Vent Ditty
8. The Rent’s Shitty
9. Incense City
10. Jim Benched Fifty

 

Probably the worst (but funniest) band ever to play at PHS: Shalom, Talent Show 1988. No one, I mean no one, who saw them will ever forget their rendition of “Roxanne.” No matter how hard they try.

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What My Mother Was This Month

By A Son

One winter day in fifth grade, I asked another boy the temperature outside. This young rebel responded bluntly, “Your mommy.” Angered, my fists beginning to tighten, I asked him to repeat his comment. “Your mommy,” he said, this time more self-righteously. I punched him in the jaw, then he hit me on the cheek. We both ran away crying.

This incident is not significant in my mind because of the brief fist-fight: indeed, I’m sure the other boy does not remember it at all. Rather, it stands out in my mind because it was the vanguard of what has come to be a seven-year string of “Your mom” comments. No mother is exempt from this piercing comeback, and I cannot say that my mom has been persecuted any more than anyone else’s. Since we will never grow out of the phrase, it is time to document what my mother was this month in the opinion of PHS students.

  • When I commented that a friend was having a difficult time opening a piece of gum, he mentioned pleasantly that no, he could not open a gum wrapper, but yes, he could open my mom.
  • In history, when I asked who John Tyler’s Vice President was, I was told that it was my mother who had indeed served the 1841-1844 term.
  • When I commented on a freshman in the halls wearing a bizarre hat, I was informed that the hat really belonged to my mom: she is just lending it to the ninth grader.
  • When I asked why professional baseball managers are threatening to lock certain players out of their clubhouses, I was alerted to the more important fact that my “mother’s jaw is locked to [a fellow student’s] nuts.”
  • My mother is an oxymoron.
  • I’m “just mad because my mom came in late last night.”
  • My mom went from homeroom to homeroom on February 14, giving out carnations.
  • My mom is interested in Greek cuisine: In fact, she ate a fellow student’s souvlaki.

That’s it for February’s comments, but we must remember that it was a short month. The quips will most certainly continue to fly; watch out for a sequel to this report. 

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