Shameless #Humblebrag

Last April The Biletones went into the studio to drop down five tracks for an EP, and while we were at it, a friend of the band, Andre Welsh, who does camera work in Hollywood, agreed to video the band in action. It was kind of fun and intense, but also ugh city.

As in for the Route 66 video, we played the song 11 times so the film crew could focus on different aspects and players during the song.

The four remaining tunes we played were It Takes a Lot to Laugh (check out Steve Gibson’s killer solos), It’s All Over Now (I sing lead), Don’t Cry no Tears, and lead singer Tom Nelson’s Rich Girlfriend. Do click to the third cut and check out Girlfriend. It is one of our strongest tunes (it is third on the playlist in the upper right corner of the Route 66 vid).

Rock’n’Roll Is More Than Three Chords

Before I retired, I was a pretty high level Project Manager at ATT, a gig I worked my last eight years with the company.

Of course at work we all have our own styles, and my boss decided to audit a meeting I was holding one day. This was fine: I liked my boss a lot, and was good at my gig and always got good reviews and such.

And, with my job, I usually ran between 4-6 meetings a day. As it happened, during one of the agenda items the day my boss listened in, a couple of team members got tasks accomplished that should have taken at least another month and I blurted out, “you guys so rock it.”

The only comment Yolanda made about handling my duties was suggesting maybe another word than “rock” was appropriate. But, after another year, she retracted since my clients mostly loved my work and style telling me, “Just keep doing what you are doing and be yourself. That seems to work quite well.”

It was a big moment, for being told professionally to be yourself, was not something I have ever been used to hearing in any environ.

I have thought about that incidentt in concert with the stupid and incessant discussions (nee arguments) on this site about what RockRemnants is about.

It is clear to me that in Steve’s view, we should only be writing around Rock’n’Roll for as he points out, that is in the name of the site.

But, aside from that being boring, not to mention smacking the face of Aristotle, our first literary critic, who said writing should “teach and delight,” Steve’s provincial view of the term as it applies is just a bunch of crap.

For one thing, we all have views and the site is for fun, so suggesting some category of music or art shouldn’t be included is specious. If all he wants to write about is the Germs, fine. Boring, yeah, but again, if that is what he likes, who am I to call him “an idiot” or suggest he “ramble incoherently?”

But, to me, as I have stated repeatedly, Rock’n’Roll is about attitude and the music is simply a subset of that mindset, irrespective of whether Allan Freed named the shit before he saw Elvis swing his hips or not.

For sure Rock’n’Roll is in the first licks of Johnny B. Goode, but it also lies within the words of Howard Beale (Peter Finch in Network) when he screams “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore.” Rock’n’Roll is in the soul of any teenager who ever sneaked out of the house in the middle of the night to meet a lover in secret, or see a forbidden band, or ride fast in cars with one’s mates. And, like it or not, it is within Johnny Paychecks words when he said “take this job and shove it.”

So, for fun, here are some things that define Rock’n’Roll as far as I see it.

  • Muhammed Ali’s poetry and left hook.
  • James Dean’s smile.
  • Johnny Rotten’s sneer.
  • The Doors saying fuck you to Ed Sullivan with Jim Morrison screaming “girl we couldn’t get much higher” rather than the “much better” Sullivan insisted upon.
  • Mick and Keith’s on-stage interplay.
  • Joni Mitchell refusing to sell her song rights for commercial use.
  • Prince refusing to allow Itunes and Spotify stream his songs.
  • Marilyn Monroe’s voice.
  • Raj Davis’s homer to tie the 2016 World Series, and Ben Zobrist’s tenth inning double to tie it back up.
  • The wings at Virgil’s.

I could list more, but I think I make my point, and well, this is how I will continue writing and supporting the site because to me, Rock’n’Roll is indeed a music genre, but it is also part of a musical bigger whole, and music is one of the arts–like movies and painting and writing and all the other slices of imagination–the Muses ruled over.

To make one more point, if by having the name RockRemnants we are supposed to be limited to just Steve’s definition of the words and art form, then I suppose “all men are created equal” should only be applied to rich white landowning men, right?

And, if this song by Gabby Pahinui doesn’t kill you and tell you Rock is in everything, well, I feel sorry for your parochial existence.

 

 

 

Amuse Bouche: Pop Pandering

This little vid is so right on about how I feel about how Spirit in the Sky and that “I got a friend in Jesus” and other crap stuck in a pop song. Hardly spiritual like Beethoven or Eno or Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor which don’t even have lyrics.

But, even more than reflecting Spirit in the Sky, this clip says so how we are as a stupid culture of sheep.

Good Songs, Bad Songs (You Know I’ve Had My Share)

My buddy Les Ogilby, who plays a fantastic blues harp–on occasion with the Biletones–and is as much of a music junkie as the rest of us (Les has contributed to the site, in fact) gave me a great disc with a bunch of cool less than widely known tunes, and one of the songs on it was this fantastic cover of Louie Louie by the Flamin’ Groovies (note the drummer has a real Boris Karloff look to him, and the bassist is on a Hofner!).

As I was listening and thinking about how simple this song is, the thought brought me back to Spirit in the Sky, another simple song that was a hit, but that is flat out weak compared to Louie Louie.

One reason we know the superiority is Louie Louie I believe is the most recorded pop tune, while anyone covering Greenbaum has been crucified.

Some of what works are the words, for one thing that drives me nuts about Greenbaum’s song is the “couplet:”

“When I die and they lay me to rest,

I’m gonna go to the place that’s the best.”

To say that is third grade poetry is an insult to eight-year olds everywhere. I mean that second line could have been “I love god it’s in him I invest” or “I’ll sleep with a heavenly crest” or “I’ll be denied because of incest” or something slightly more sophisticated. Not that Louie Louie has complex words, but part of the charm is like a good rock tune, the words are garbled and subject to urban myth and conjecture providing part of the essence of how Aristotle defined what poetry should do: teach and delight.

But, then I was streaming some New Wave stuff and on came a fantastic Johnny Thunders cover of the Shangri Las Give Him a Great Big Kiss, another tune that could easily be so tawdry and awful in the Honey/Teen Angel kind of sense, but somehow the song kills both in the hands of the Shangri Las and Thunders.

Anyway, I am not sure exactly where this is going. For sure I dig both these covers and was looking for an excuse to write about them, but, again, Kiss is such a simple song (two chords for the verse, two more for the chorus) and like Louie Louie it all works so well.

Maybe someone can explain that fine line to me between genius and stupid? I do know Einstein said “the difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.” True words for these times.

Bad Music: “The Bottom Ten”

My Frankie Avalon post sparked some responses and ideas, and I thought, “shit, maybe a list of the worst songs ever is kind of fun.” I realize Dave Berry set the precedent, but times change and we all have our likes and dislikes, so I am suggesting we assemble a “Bottom 10.”

That is, if the best ten songs ever are the Top 10, then logically the worst are going to be the Bottom 10 by default, right?

In his response, Steve asked if we did this, if there should be criteria, and while at first I dismissed that to myself, I did reconsider. As in does Macarena belong on the same list as The Last Kiss (J. Frank Wilson, not Pearl Jam) and does that belong on the same list as You Light Up My Life (brilliantly suggested by my wife Diane as I was listing mine) which is just flat out bad?

As in, do cheesey maudlin, wildly stupid and popular in the “pet rock” sense, and fucking awful deserve to be lumped together, or does each own its own genre? And, are there more, I wonder?

My idea is to get some simple parms, and publish lists and maybe even keep a spreadsheet to determine an actual readers worst.

It not only would be fun, but we might see some funny stuff tumble our of our collective.

Thoughts readers? Comment below, or hit me up at lawr@creativesports.com with thoughts under the subject “Remnants Bottom 10.” (Note that this is not new territory for the Renmants, who forged to the awful three years ago.)

And, to show my heart is in the wrong place, I leave you with this:

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.

Afternoon Snack: PiL, “Cruel”

I was sitting in the Jacuzzi (a middle of the night ritual, since I have retired), smoking a joint, with a Daily Mix from Spotify playing and the psychedelic lights in our bathroom moving through the spectrum, sipping fizzy water when this song from Johnny Rotten’s second band came on.

I really dug this tune at the time, though I felt the rest of the disc spotty at best, but I sort of forgot about Cruel till the other day, and my, it holds up pretty well.

The thing that also got me about this song was for some reason, the cover of the disc was just freaky in some sort of erotic/exotic/perverted/”I don’t want to go there” way, but I have no clue why.

As for the song, I not only found this video (it actually starts at 7:36) but this TV show has some very weird shit going on, like a magician escaping from a washing machine into which he has been placed, and bound, with water and soap and such going full tilt boogie.

Weird, but fun, I think? And, the song still rules.

Classic Discs Versus Teen Faves Versus Artistic Growth

In the process of discussing our teen favorites, Tom pointed to the incredible run of brilliant albums Steveland Wonder released and I commented, noting that I felt Talking Book, Fulfillingness First Finale, and Innervisions were on my list of artists who produced three just brilliant albums in a row.

Also added in were:

  • Blue/Ladies of the Canyon/Court and Spark (Joni Mitchell)
  •  Beggars Banquet, Let it Bleed/Sticky Fingers (Stones)
  • Revolver/Rubber Soul/Sgt. Pepper (Beatles)
  • Bringing it all Back Home/Highway 61/Blonde on Blonde

Elvis Costello (first three) and Neil Young (Goldrush through Harvest) also made it once the list was initiated, and Prince just missed. But Steve made suggestions of Alice Cooper, the Ramones, and AC/DC which I quickly dismissed

This does not mean I don’t love Road to Ruin and Love it to Death but if we look at Cooper and Steve’s example, maybe I can explain the difference, at least as I mean it.

Love it to Death triggered three wonderful albums from the Alice Cooper band, but the third, School’s Out was a little thin in my view, and Love it to Death included the throwaway Black Juju, an immediate disqualifier.

Why, you ask?

Because in looking at the records produced by the Beatles for example, in Rubber Soul the band clearly kicked their songwriting to a deeper level with the focus of their lyrics moving to a new level, not just for the band, but for pop music. The Fab Four continued this growth, both lyrically and sonic-ally with Revolver, and then even further with Sgt. Pepper. The same can be said about Wonder, Dylan, Mitchell, the Stones, Costello, and Young, all of whom have challenged themselves and their sound, pushing into new directions, and delivering breathing works that pushed the groups collaborative art to a new level.

Not that Love it to Death isn’t art, or a fantastic album, but as good as the record is, by Killer, the band was still spot on musically and lyrically, but while 18 might really fit what I defined above, nothing else on any of the three suggested Cooper albums suggests or provides any kind of growth of the group’s art and sound any further than where it was.

Not that this means Cooper or AC/DC or any performer(s) should be dismissed, but, there is a major difference between releasing three very strong discs that contain great songs, but all basically of the same ilk, as opposed to the other artists who truly moved their skills and experience to a different level.

Snotty? Maybe.

Elistist? Maybe.

But, well, hard to argue? I don’t know.

Have at it, and just to show I understand my roots, let’s leave with Alice, and as good a garage tune as you will ever hear. It is just the individual tune does not the album or artistic value of the relative catalog make.

 

 

Ack, Butch Trucks (1947-2017), Too? It’s All Too Much!

Gad ,what a bad run of obits here the past few days. Now, the great time keeper for the Allman Brothers Band has passed on, just shy of 70 years of age

Trucks, who was with the band starting in 1968, had that great swinging percussive style that drove, complemented, and cemented the otherwise fluid playings of the band, just as Bill Kreutzman was at the bottom of the Dead, with Jai-Johanny Johnson playing the rhymthic counterpart to Trucks that Mickey Hart was to Kreutzman.

I guess that is a pretentious sounding sentence of nothing, but what I mean is the band certainly could interplay as on One Way Out , a song that holds arguably the best live trading of licks/solos anywhere ever with a pair of ass-kickers knocked out by Brothers Duane and Betts.  But, beneath the guitars, check out the drumming, which is so there and in time behind some very difficult time and phrasing.

And, well everyone who owns a Bic lighter knows the drive that Whippin’ Post held,

and, the band could also be so melodic and soulful with tunes like In Memory of Miss Elizabeth Reed.

Trucks’ DNA is also linked to nephews Derek Trucks (Tedeschi-Trucks Band guitarist)  and Duane Trucks (drums for Widespread Panic).

Live the eternal long, and prosper Butch…