Some Sound Advice

Just finished reading a book that was a Christmas present from my girlfriend. It’s called There, I said it – Bob Dylan is overrated. She knows the author/editor (Joshua Shelov), I forget how. Maybe she knows somebody who knows him.

Anyway, for me, the book concept gets an A. The execution, maybe a C. It’s some disappointingly short essays by different intelligent folks (some ESPN people, film people, actual professional musicians, etc.) each taking a personal crack at an untouchable artist.

The Dylan essay is good (by the author/editor, presumably where the entire project began). I like the Steely Dan essay. I think the Stevie Wonder essay is well done.

On the contrary, the Beatles essay never gives any kind of concrete reason whatsoever for not liking The Beatles. The Billy Joel author’s essay proves to me that the guy knows way too much about Billy Joel’s music to hate it. (Plus, he tries way too hard to be funny, as do some others.)

Frankly, I think the four founding Remnants would do a much better job producing the same book.

Go buy it if you’re intrigued. My girlfriend would be happy you supported Joshua Shelov. It’s certainly a quick and easy read.

Within the book, there’s mention of “a bit floating around the internet, with Dave Grohl railing against American Idol, how it’s destroying music, and so on.” As sad as I think it is (in more ways than one) that Dave Grohl seems to be the only official spokesman for rock ‘n’ roll anymore, I had to find it.

This is the best match I could find. Perhaps you’ve seen this a million times already; I had not. Although I wish it were nastier and more direct, as a guy who certainly believes the popular music of today is firmly in the shitter, it speaks much truth.

Since No One Else Is Posting Anyway. . .

Here’s another Primal Scream.

Condensed Wiki story of this band, for those who care or not:

1) The singer was the drummer for Jesus & Mary Chain.

2) They did all kinds of critically acclaimed experimental stuff early on.

3) Eventually, they decided to do a simple, straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll album, Riot City Blues, where both the songs I posted live. It was critically meh, with some severe pans.

4) This song was their biggest hit single in England. I don’t think it’s as good as the other one, but it’s good enough that I’m gonna buy the album. Will report back later if necessary. The video is easy to watch, if nothing else.

Afternoon Snack: The Who, “Jaguar” and “Rael”

I have been listening to the complete reissue of The Who Sell Out, which has the original tracks and bits of commercials supporting Peter Townshend’s penchant to make an album a cohesive unit.

Townshend, as most of you likely know, imagined the album as a daily radio program on the BBC, so he sprinkled in radio spots, largely performed by the band making the music sparkly, the ads goofy and funny, and the entire work just so different and musically prescient that the whole affair just kills me. In fact, The Who Sell Out is my favorite album by the band.

With the reissue all the original cuts are indeed there, along with the released spots, but there are almost 30 cuts on this, with several takes on several songs in several styles making the whole smorgasbord kind of fascinating in so many ways.

But, at the core is the music which my mate Steve Gibson called alternative, even though the album was released 10 years before the Sex Pistols saw daylight.

If you listen to the song below, Jaguar, I think you will see what Steve means.

If you drop down to Rael, you will find an instrumental riff that worked its way into Underture from Tommy.

 

 

Oh The Times Square They are a Changing

Diane and I are in New York for our vacation. Actually, I came to participate in the FSTA football draft, which is great as it means seeing so many friends from the fantasy sports world. The draft was part of the annual summer convention put on by the organization and since we both love visiting our most vibrant city so much, the convention was an easy excuse to plan an hiatus around.

One of the things I always do when I am in the Big Apple is stop by Rudy’s Music, on W. 48th street. Aside from just loving to look at guitars, Rudy’s always has, or had, a bunch of beautiful vintage axes that are more than wonderful to gawk at.

Over the years, I have purchased stuff there, too. Before boutique pedals were as readily available as they are today, I got my “King of the Brits” pedal and also my Fulltone “Choral Flange” at Rudy’s who always had easy access to such stuff when all Guitar Center would carry was BOSS (not knocking that company, in fact I use their digital tuners for all my setups).

Even more, I fell in love with Hofner basses at Rudy’s, playing one there, and then knowing that was my next purchase (Diane actually bought one for me as a present some years back and I do indeed love it to pieces).

So, this trip, first day of stumbling around mid-town, we met my cousin Richard at Virgil’s for lunch (another serious ritual, and if you like wings, Virgil’s has the best ones on the planet) and were walking around just soaking the city in when I suggested walking over to Rudy’s. Last year, I got a leather necklace there with a little carved guitar, and somewhere the guitar got lost, so I wanted to get a new one.

Much to my shock and dismay, Rudy’s was gone, and all that remained was an empty storefront. There is still the Rudy’s in Soho, functioning away, but no more mid-t0wn. So, at least to get in a guitar fix, I walked up the street to Manny’s, a music store possibly more famous than Rudy’s as that is where the Ramones hung and bought their gear, for example.

But Manny’s too was gone, again leaving an empty storefront in its wake.

I talked to a couple of people and asked what happened, and, well, the Times Square area is indeed undergoing a major renovation, and property is being snatched up, and Rudy’s and Manny’s were part of the toll of progress.

I understand this: the past will inevitably fall behind and become quaint (although nostalgia does often foster a comeback from falling out of favor) and outdated and dismissed in lieu of the next big relative thing. And, of course, profit will always sneak into the equation as well.

Anyway, for some reason, as I mused the loss of Manny’s and Rudy’s, I kept coming to this 1965 hit by the Trade Winds, New York’s a Lonely Town which essentially has nothing to do with any of this save the NYC locale, and perhaps the thoughts of things lost.

So, here it is. The song is kind of hoaky, but in a perfect 60’s way, I think.

Afternoon Snack: The Fresh & Onlys, “Waterfall”

I was talking music during Tout Wars with Sirius/XM’s Kyle Elfrink, continuing a discussion we had begun a couple of weeks earlier at LABR.

As part of the process I sent vids of Jefferson Airplane and now Richard Thompson to Kyle, while he turned me onto this Northern California band, The Fresh & Onlys.

I am not so sure about the name, and I listened to the entire album, Play it Strange which is ok, but somewhat limited in sound scope in my opinion.

But, the bay area band does deliver on this tune which hearkens both The Flaming Groovies and the Bodeans to me.

Still, like this song a lot!

 

Afternoon Snack” Def Leppard, “Armageddon It”

Def Leppard is a band I paid no attention to during their heyday, and truth is, I have listened to some of their stuff of late, and it all kind of sounds the same.

But, this song–which is clearly in their sound wheelhouse–is just a great little pop/rock tune with great drums and fun (if simple) guitar pyrotechnics.

You can love it or hate it, but it is a perfect little pop tune.

Obama Llama: Imperial State Electric Of The Union

In desperation for something new, I bought the second Imperial State Electric CD Pop War. (Was hoping against hope I might find something good in the proposed “Remnants Review Top Albums From 2014” but that never materialized.)

This is guitarist-drummer-singer-songwriter-who-needs-no-explanation-at-this-point Nicke Andersson’s current project on his lifelong quest to eventually morph from pick-a-guy-in-Slayer to Paul McCartney. I bought the first album about a year ago and it’s OK. This is OK too. I think there’s one left. I’ll bet it’s OK.

I post this song because it’s so Cheap Trick even Lawr might like it. This live version is a little rougher than the studio version, but it at least gives us something to watch. Plus I know Peter likes looking at his idol Nicke.

Night Music: Cheap Trick, “I Know What I Want (and I Know How to Get it)”

I always have regretted not having seen Cheap Trick during their hey days in the late 70’s.

There were a couple of opportunities, particularly in 1978 at a Day on the Green, when AC/DC came around for the first time.

Also on the bill were Ted Nugent, whom I hated almost as much then as I do now, Journey, whom I hated almost as much as Ted Nugent, and Blue Oyster Cult who I couldn’t take seriously. For which I am now sorry.

But, AC/DC and Cheap Trick–the opening acts–were of major interest. And, I had a hard time justifying buying a ticket to just leave after two bands.

During their three-disc run of In Color and Black and White, Heaven Tonight, and Dream Police, the band totally kicked it for me, with driving pop-rock tunes peppered with clever lyrics, and a collection of players who seemed to have a shitload of fun doing what they were doing and being who they were being.

A side note about those three albums is, if you look closely at the album jackets, you will see a shot of the cover art of the previous album hidden. I always loved that.

By the time Budokan hit, and the band broke through, I was mostly done with them. Not that Budokan was not a hot set, or that Cheap Trick had done anything wrong. They just got too popular for me, I guess. They also lost air play time.

I was reunited with them when I started playing guitar for real, a little because they use simple major chords, and a little because my teacher and friend, Steve Gibson, was also a fan. And, then I met another friend and musician, Steve Chattler, who is a big “Trick,” as he calls them, fan as well.

Not to mention Diane grew up not so far from Rockford, home of the quartet, so somehow Cheap Trick wanted to be part of my existence, thus little point in resisting.

The song I picked for your bedtime listening is a fave. I Know What I Want has all kinds of Beatlesque stuff to it, especially the wonderful Eight Days a Week sus chords during the bridge.

I think the album version would be a lot cleaner than this live track from that very Budokan set, but since Steve (as in Moyer) is such a gearhead, I thought he would like what appears to be 30 strings among three guitar players.

Afternoon Snack: Green Day, “Jesus of Suburbia”

Sometime back Steve dissed Green Day.

I understand we all have our preferences, but I have been meaning to present them, maybe even with consideration as a great band.

I got to see them twice, way back when Dookie was released. In 1993, they were the opening act at the local BFD, a spring pre-cursor to Lollapalooza. That year was a heavyweight BFD, also featuring, Pavement, Luscious Jackson, Toad the Wet Sprocket, the Rollins Band, the Flaming Lips, and the Knack (who had become a sort of cool post punk retro band).

I saw Green Day again a year later, still paying dues and working at their already well defined craft/attitude presented in Dookie. When that album came out, my legs could still allow me to run 25-35 miles a week, and Dookie was a Walkman favorite for a while.

I confess that I did not buy any Green Day discs till American Idiot was released a decade later, but their doggedness, and tuneful pop hits kept right on coming.

Warning. Redundant. When I Come Around among others, are all well done power pop/punk tunes to be sure.

But, I remember my friend George Anderson, making me sit in his car after we had picked up Chinese food. Jesus of Suburbia was next cut coming on the newly released American Idiot.

“You gotta listen to this before we go in. You will love it,” George implored.

That meant Mongolian beef and BBQ pork were going to cool down some, but I listened and George was right. I loved it.

Say what you will, but American Idiot is solid album, with clever tunes, a clean sound, and a lot of punch. Maybe it was popular, or chic, but I cannot see blaming the band for actually achieving what we all aspire to: commercial success.

Here is Jesus of Suburbia

For fun,  let’s toss in the band’s treatment of the Simpson’s theme from The Simpson’s Movie.

Obit: Paul Revere (1938-2014)

Way back in February, Peter wrote a Night Music piece on Paul Revere and the Raiders and I started to write this very article I am now updating.

I saw the band a couple of times in the early 60’s, opening for the Beach Boys, who played Sacramento a lot. In fact I was at the show that became The Beach Boys in Concert, and the Raiders played that gig.

The Raiders, headed by Paul Revere, were a more than entertaining collection of players who knocked out some very good pop hits. Just Like Me, Kicks, Louie Louie, and Him or Me, What’s it Gonna Be?, to name some.

But, Revere and band hold kind of a funny and dubious place in history.

At the time the first wave of British bands were washing onto the American shore and airwaves, the head of A&R at Columbia Records was none other than Mitch Miller. You know, the Sing Along With Mitch guy, who had a Van Dyke to give the illusion of beatnik coolness, but who in reality was as square as they come.

Convinced that long hair and Brit Pop were just a passing fancy, Miller dissuaded the Columbia powers that the company should not sign any of the zillion bands just waiting to be discovered, and by the time it was realized this was a business/tactical error, The Raiders were the first band signed, for a million clams.

Not that the band was bad: they were just a lot different than the British invasion bands.

Miller skedaddled from Columbia, and Clive Davis took over to a pretty successful run, but the plan definitely waylaid the company for a few years.

Anyway, Revere, the leader, passed away Saturday, perfectly enough at the age of ’76, and irrespective of Miller’s acumen, the Raiders were excellent showmen and musicians and songwriters.

I will leave you with a taste:  Hungry.