Hey Kids, All That is Old is Not Good.

I was casting about in my memory palace today for rock bands that had an impact on me when I was in high school, but didn’t endure. The name Uriah Heep bubbled up to the top. These were, in my memory, Celtic progressive rockers like Jethro Tull, who similarly took the name of a mythological figure (correction: well, a character from David Copperfield), and who rocked.

Or something like that.

I’m sure Jethro Tull has some down moments, but most of them are at least agreeable, and many of them are  pretty damn good.

Uriah Heep? I’m sure I’m missing something good, there was a reason they were on the radio, but this is awful! Or is it just me? You decide.

Bad Songs: Frankie Avalon, “Bobby Sox to Stockings”

My Spotify does a cool thing: gives little subset genre playlists of my main giant playlist so if I just want to sample some new wave and no Motown, both of which are on the bigger collection, I can hear just that.

The other day I felt nostalgic, so I put on list that includes Buddy Holly and Gene Vincent and Del Shannon. I am not sure how Spotify associated this horrible Frankie Avalon song with those great artists, but it did, and the song I had forgotten came back to haunt.

This “music” represents the absolute worst of what people imagine of those wonderful nostalgic 50’s, when mainstream radio sucked, racism was rote, and despite the separation of church and state, we were forced to eat fucking fishsticks at the school cafeteria every Friday.

Aside from being a joke, though, the intro to this song from American Bandstand is cool because you can see the Top 10 at the time behind Frankie and Dick Clark. Other than that, the only thing worse than those Friday fishsticks is this song.

Underground Garage And Sucky Ramones

When Howard Stern’s on vacation (seems about a third of the time between four-day weekends and two-week vacations every couple months), I’ll listen to Little Steven’s Underground Garage on my XM in the car. It could be way better for sure, but it’s as good as radio gets these days, by leaps and bounds.

Complaints:

1) Way too much Joan Jett
2) Garage is the main course (of course – and that’s OK), but when it’s not garage the leaning is more toward Americana than the hard rock I’d prefer. Some hard rock gets played, but not nearly enough.
3) Seems The Ramones I hear is always of the later “suck” variety.

For me, The Ramones are 80 percent the first three albums – all masterpieces, whichever one I’m listening to is the best. The fourth, Road To Ruin, is pretty damn good. The Phil Spector album has its moments. After that, it’s shit city.

I hear this song on Underground Garage more than any other Ramones and it’s horrible. Where’s Johnny’s guitar? The hard edge is completely gone in a wash of poppy, keyboardy drivel. If The Ramones were this from the beginning, I wouldn’t even like them.

Thinking about Jesse Dayton, and universal streaming, and what we think on our first listen

As I’ve noted here a few times, I’m on Bob Lefsetz’s mailing list. Lefsetz is an older (as old as me) recorded music professional. I don’t know his bio, but I like his posts because they’re passionate and informed about a wide range of issues, and he loves the classic rock music (far more than me, but he really loves it).

I didn’t read his original post, but tonight he posted a letter from a musician named Jesse Dayton, who responded to a Lefsetz post by describing who he is:

Hey Bob. Dig your blog. Here’s the skinny. Old Texas family. Recorded w/ Waylon, Cash, Willie & slew others playing guitar after 10,000 hrs of moving the needle on Jerry Reed vinyl. Did hillbilly music for 3 Rob Zombie films which did good enough for me to buy a house in Austin which is now worth quite a few shekels. Just filled in for Billy Zoom while he was getting cancer treatment on 40 show tour w/ Doe, Exene & DJ in X which reintroduced me to a national audience. Wrote/directed a Cormanesque B-movie creature feature w/ Malcolm McDowell that sold & I made $ on & is now a cult thing. Just released new record The Revealer w/ a batch of songs that I didn’t just write, but opened a vein & let them bleed out of my insane childhood & all the desperate characters I was subjected too along the way. It’s all there…civil rights issues, conned hillbillies not voting their interest, being unworthy of real love…you name it. Right now I’m in the middle of nowhere living by my wits w/ 3 piece band on a never ending tour in a motor home. Thx for the shout out amigo. Onward JD

Now, I’m not a big Rob Zombie fan, but Corman, Malcolm McDowell, and Jerry Reed stroke my strings. I’m into open veins pouring, too, if it isn’t suicide.

The great thing about the modern world, a really great thing and I don’t think we’ve absorbed how this has changed us, is that after I read this email note I could immediately listen to Dayton’s record (on YouTubeRed, in this case). And I could judge.

And I judge, meh. Here’s a song I like more than others.

 

Very Jerry Lee Lewis, and that’s not bad. But as it goes on this guy seems to more marketing to me about his deep roots than actually rocking. The rock feels too organized for someone truly crazed by that wacked out background he describes. In fact the whole idea of the Holy Ghost Rock ‘n’ Roller seems, by the end of the song a pretty fail marketing ploy.

Dayton touches all the bases of apostasy, but starting with the album image and ticking through the tunes, the hi jinx of rural religion is used to denote authenticity. And the music of rock ‘n’ roll is used to denote authenticity.

And the music? Fun, if you’re will to suspend your belief in legitimacy.

I recommend listening to all of Dayton’s tunes. This isn’t bad music and is mostly not bad thinking, but from the album image to the calculated lyrics, this seems more intellectualized than rocked.

Bottom line, I can’t keep listening to it. If I want to hear this music I listen to Joe Ely, to Hank Williams III, to Steve Earle.  If I don’t want so much testosterone I listen to Lucinda Williams and, on the sweet side, Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins.

But I am going search out that Malcolm McDowell movie.

As I go to bed, some truly bleak HW III:

 

Iron City Houserockers Were Weaker Than You Would Hope.

There was a time in the 70s, I think, when Bruce and Southside Johnny ruled. Maybe it was the early 80s. But around that time a band from Pittsburgh called the Iron City Houserockers emerged.

They were a real rock band with original songs, rock critics went crazy for them because of the blue collar origins and soul sound, but anyone who bought their albums (or singles, I guess) realized they were poor imitations.

I bought the second album, and I’m not proud, but what prompted this post was that I came upon a Sandanista! tribute album, on which the Houserockers cover Magnificent Seven. That says everything. (Not terrible, but not that useful either.)

The Abysmal State Of Pop Music

Sorry to beat a dead horse; maybe I should just join a different gym.

The videos they play are just so godawful and I do suspect they’re a very fair representation of today’s pop. Every song is the same. Every video is the same.

Today they played a video by Dua Lipa followed by a video of Pia Mia. You can’t make this shit up!

I certainly won’t bother you with either of these videos lest I perpetuate this plague. (Believe me, you’re not missing anything.)

Happy Memorial Day!

Defend Your Boy?

I remember a while ago, someone put up a Jake Bugg video or two (not bad at all) and I think a couple of you really liked him. Well, apparently the record company got to him and ol’ young Jake is now doing the hip-hop choreographed dancing boogie like everyone else.

Sellout? He does have the right initials for a hip hop teeny bop artist.

Worst Video Ever

A new Planet Fitness opened close to my house, so I quit the Y and joined. $10 a month can’t be beat. But the music they play is pure horrible.

I’ve seen this video several times now and I can ignore it no longer. Here’s the plot:

1) There’s this lonely Bro Country guy in the desert.

2) One night he sees something like a falling star very nearby.

3) He checks it out and meets an alien/feral/Native American woman. Nubile and beautiful, of course.

4) They tool around and drink Bud Light (perhaps most offensive).

5) It’s implied that they fuck later. (I’m hoping she has a big lobster claw where her vagina should be.)

The band sickens me too, looking exactly like every band should look these days. The music certainly doesn’t make up for anything.

I would happily offer everyone in this video to ISIS, as my gift.

Afternoon Snack: Cher/Nancy Sinatra, “Bang Bang”

OK, so I am kind of into letting the Spotify do its thing. Mostly, on the 35-minute ride to the links, I have picked an artist and let the streaming rip, but this morning I was feeling nostalgic, so I dug around and found a 60’s hits stream.

There was a bunch of Dylan and Doors, and the Turtles along with the Isley Brothers and ultimately Stevie Wonder when Bang Bang, by Nancy Sinatra came on.

Let’s be clear. I hated These Boots Were Made for Walking (save the cool bass walkdown at the end) from the first time I heard it, as a 13-year old in 1966. I did not think Nancy Sinatra talented. Her singing wasn’t chanteuse-like a la Marlene Dietrich, nor was it pretty, a la Connie Francis (sorry, I had a mad crush on Connie as an eight-year old).

There was nothing that seemed remotely real about Sinatra the daughter (or son, who did redeem himself with a guest shot on Family Guy). And, for extra fun, remember that Frank Jr. was kidnapped out of Harrah’s in 1963, and that Dean Torrance–the Dean of Jan and Dean–was involved in that caper.

Nancy just seemed the epitome of plastic to me: worse, she was a moderate talent at best who was able to cash in on her father’s name and fame, for had she been Jane Doe from Everytown, Iowa, Nancy would never have had a hit record.

There is this quasi Django Rheinhardt gypsy-ish guitar in the background of Nancy’s version, but basically it just blows. I was happy for I Was Made to Love Her to kick on after Bang Bang was shot.

As a means of comparison, I did go out an find the Cher version, which is far more orchestrated than I remember. I do like Cher’s voice: at least I did back then and to a degree for Cher was like Neil Diamond in that I liked her early stuff, but as she got bigger and mainstream, her songs seemed cornier, and I was disinterested.

The thing I like about the Cher version is the clear Phil Spector/Sonny Bono influence. Also, at the time, I knew she was a shitload hotter than Nancy could ever hope to be. I mean, Nancy could only hope to attract the likes of Gene Simmons, Gregg Allman, or Richie Sambora.