The Biters Forge Ahead

Things to know:

1) I feel guilty for liking this Bolan forgery so much.

2) It’s the “soco, soco, soco. . .” part.

3) They’re not even from Sweden! Atlanta, actually.

4) The singer is prettier and probably half as masculine as Joan Jett, whose look he forged. (Joan Jett did plenty of Bolan forging herself so it all comes full circle.)

The Beatles Get Worst to First Treatment

Note first, Bill Wyman wrote this.

He’s a rock critic, not the Rolling Stones bassist. But does that matter?

I immediately check out the end and find Good Morning in last place. Geez. I like that tune, not in a rock sense, but in a music and attitude sense, it’s pretty powerful. So, I disagree.

And then it gets worse and better and worse, and there’s not reason to think about the ranking. This is an internet click bait thing, Wyman is a pretty decent critic, and does a good job of navigating through the ranks.

Which are totally wrong. Discuss.

Song-Ending Solo

Here’s my nominee.

Anyone not completely blown away the first time you heard this as a kid? Made me wanna jump out of my pants.

It’s a really odd rock song (if this copies something else I’m not aware of, please do tell) and one of the oddities is there’s no solo until the very end. The guitar is all riff and thump up to that point.

And what a solo it is – herky-jerky as hell and packed full of what has become cliche Page solo material. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Song of the Week – Living in the City, Hurray for the Riff Raff


This past week marked the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, an album considered by many to be among the first “concept” albums of the Rock era. The album was intended to be seen as a performance by the fictional band that bore the name of the album.

Today it is often lamented by baby boomers that due to the most popular, current music consumption vehicles – streaming and to a lesser degree iTunes libraries – the industry has become a hits only market. Conventional wisdom says that musicians don’t record “statements” and consumers aren’t interested in listening to a whole album by a single artist.

While that may be true in general, it is not without exception. One of my favorite albums of the “aughts” is Separation Sunday (2005) by The Hold Steady. It is a concept album that explored themes of conflict between Christianity and pimps, prostitutes, skinheads and drug addicts.

In March, Hurray for the Riff Raff released their 6th album called The Navigator, itself a concept album. HFTRR is a band led by Alynda Segarra, a woman with a very interesting backstory. (More about that in a bit.)

The Navigator unfolds in two acts and follows Segarra’s alter ego, Navita, who feels the need to escape the city. She visits a bruja (witch) who she asks to put her under a spell for 40 years. Act two begins when she wakes from the spell and discovers the city she once knew is now gone. (It has been gentrified.)

Somewhat autobiographical, it explores the urban territory that has long been the playground for Lou Reed, Patti Smith and Jim Carroll. (This is a departure from earlier HFTRR albums that leaned more toward the Americana of Dylan and The Band.)

Segarra was raised in a Puerto Rican neighborhood of New York. By the age of 17 she was steeped in the writings of the Beat generation and left home see America riding the rails. Caught illegally freight hopping in Ashville, NC, she was facing a month in jail when she was bailed out by friends. She moved on to New Orleans in 2004, found a connection to that city, and stayed there for 10 years. It was there that she started to write songs and sing. In 2014 she moved to Nashville but felt out of place being a city born Puerto Rican – not a southerner. Feeling like an outsider, Segarra began to reconnect to her ethnic roots and returned to New York.

Today’s SotW is “Living in the City” from The Navigator.

“Living in the City” tells the story of the young Navi (Segarra), living in the projects and observing the characters (Big Danny, Mariposa, Gypsy) and behaviors that led her to want to escape. Lyrically “Living in the City” reminds me of Born to Run era Springsteen — like “Meeting Across the River” and “Jungleland.”

Musically the song harkens back to Reed’s “Sweet Jane.”

Overall, The Navigator is a terrific record and proves the concept album is not dead. I strongly recommend you check it out on Spotify or YouTube.

Enjoy… until next week.

The first two Cure albums

The career arcs of bands are not always controlled by the players. Or they spin out beyond local expectations.

The Cure became an international pop sensation, and in many ways deservedly so. I have no idea if that is what they aspired to, but they got it.

But all we ever listened to were their first two elpees, which are wonderfully clear and direct and poetic. Not unpopular, but pure art in a way.

If you’re at all studious about life in our modern world, you should read Albert Camus’s The Stranger, and listen to this song by the Cure. Obviously not the whole story, but a bit of perspective.

Part of the brilliance is you don’t need to know the book to love this song, and wonder about it.


1970 Classic Nuggets: Tighter, Tighter, and Ride Captain Ride

The good old Spotify shuffle dug these choice pop tunes from 1970 out the other day as I was driving to the golf course (was I driving in order to drive?) and I was reminded of a couple of things.

One, is both are just classic pop/rock gems from the era, with pretty lush and thoughtful productions. The second is both songs feature not just one, but two guitar solos, the first of which falls after a couple of verses, the second to close out the song.

What is different is that in both, that second solo gives the guitar player a chance to cut loose, and by most 1970 pop song standards, both guys shred and push their sound as much as anyone.

First off is Tighter, Tigher, by Alive’n’Kicking. Alive’n’Kicking were actually discovered by Tommy James, who got the group signed to his Roulette label. James wrote the song Crystal Blue Persuasion  for Alive’n’Kicking, but liked it so much he kept the song for the Shondells.

However, as a gesture, James gave Tighter, Tighter to the band who scored a hit in a song which does bridge 60’s pop (ie, there are trumpets) with the pop influenced by Psychedelia and Brit Pop. Add that great Hammond organ, and guitar work by Dave Shearer and a sparkling catchy tune is the result. (Note these are two of the funkiest videos ever: maybe even funkier than those early Clash ones.)

The Blues Image were a Florida-based band who moved to LA at just the right time, making it to the strip and signed to Atco, releasing a second album in 1970 that included Ride Captain Ride.

For Ride Captain Ride Kent Henry–who went on to play with Steppenwolf–played the first solo and fills, and then Mike Pinera did the shredding at the end. Pinera moved on to play with Iron Butterfly and then Alice Cooper, and his band-mates did work with Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, and Manassas. (This is one funky video, BTW.)

It is kind of sad that song production has changed from those lush 60’s sounds of Motown and Phil Spector and George Martin, to Jack Nietschze and Sonny Bono, and even into guys like Steve Lillywhite. Somehow, though, it seems like electronics have kind of purified music kind of like CGI has changed film.

I am OK with that progress, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss what used to be too.

Hank Wood and the Hammerheads, Go Home

I’m halfway through this elpee on YouTube, listening at top volume while editing the biographical info of quarterbacks for the Fantasy Football Guide. Blame Hank and Co. for any errors.

There aren’t many modern punk bands that grab me, but this is clangorous driving rock n roll, a little garage-y, with some fun song ideas a la the first and second wave of bands with ugly album covers. These guys have that, too. But they don’t sound derivative so much as inspired to make their own noise. So they do!

I think this is their first album. The second one is called Stay Home, or it could be the other way around.