Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Now they got me talking…

September 29, 2010

Someone on the RYM message boards asked a pointed question: what is your least favorite type of music fan? That one got me waxing so philosophical that I figured my input would be too heated for that forum, so I’m putting it here instead.

The Worst Types of Music ‘Fans’

1) Misintegrationists – people whose interests fall into one end of the musical spectrum (Christgauian generalism, The Petty Principle) yet spend the majority of their time attempting to coerce people who inhabit other ends of the spectrum (the Gitlin school, the Maximal Trilustrum) with evasive, loaded canards about how the contrasting values are ‘factually’ inferior, typically by means of moral relativism and post-structuralist disingenuity.

2) The “Five’s The Limit” Crowd – people who arbitrarily dismiss a group/performer after their third, fourth, or fifth album, deeming everything subsequent to be somehow tainted, or a product of “selling out”: a neo-Marxist anti-concept which betrays another line of incoherency. Such arguments do nothing to address the quality of the music itself on those later releases – like whether or not the songwriting well had run dry. What these ‘fans’ are really saying is that the newer material can’t compete with the historical baggage of those earlier releases; baggage which has since become subconsciously ingrained.

3) The Musical Politics of Identity crowd – people who need to label themselves through allegiance to some regimented musical identity in order to feel secure (Metalheads, PowDer PLopsters, Shoegum Br[sh]it PLopsters). Such people are typically disinterested in music for music’s sake, for they’re primarily obsessed with idiomatic citations – a reductionist process which swiftly eroded the artistry of rock following the close of the Maximal Trilustrum.

4) The “Anti-Hegemony” crowd – another post-structuralist conceit: allege the suffering of some supposedly ‘oppressed’ group of people, and adopt that ‘suffering’ as an ideology of principle; the victimology complex which perpetuates the neo-Marxist paradigm itself, of which anti-maximal Christgauians are but one bastard byproduct. Jazz rock/fusion has been a target of misplaced zeal from this indoctrinated crowd, because its idiomatic breadth and cross-cultural resonance supersedes the anti-maximalist wish to pin jazz down to a subterranean, martyrized existence; as if stalwarts from the jazz age never sought to harness their broadest potential appeal in the first place.


Why Him?

April 22, 2008

I’ve never really understood what was up with this video, or this song, for that matter. Is the singer being sent up into space against his will? Or is he being kidnapped by aliens as an example of Earthling specimens for another planet’s study? And what’s with the woman in the car – does she have some relation to the singer, or is she just some random woman who winds up getting zapped into space as the token female Earthling specimen for that study?

In any case, this was an awesome and uncanny charting song, and the woman is hot! So without further ado..
Planet P – “Why Me” (1983)

Rock Entrée

February 8, 2008

If one was to wrap the musical evolution spanning Beatlemania through Y2K into the metaphoric capsule of a single day’s meals, it could all be summarized like this: the British Invasion of 1964 was the early morning coffee boost; AOR implementers like Revolver, Blonde on Blond and Pet Sounds were the vitamin-enriched late breakfast/early lunch; popsike and late ’60s exotica were a sweet-toothed afternoon snack; and, feast regalia, the divine scope and grand ambitions of epic ’70s rock, prog and fusion made for the utmost delicious and nutritious banquet of a lifetime, topped off decadently by some yummy dessert at a colorfully neon-lit cafe, which would of course bring you to the early ’80s.

Sadly, you’ll rise the next day feeling utterly nauseous; spewing toxins from every orifice in your body when (bombs away!) you come to the crude headlight horror that, yes, you’ve died and awoken in the ’90s – the replacement for hell, which is now saving space for the reprehensible purveyors of that heinous deca[y]de’s atrocious music and ghastly fashions. And no, you didn’t get sick from something you’d eaten during the preceding day of festive indulgence. It was all down to some poisonous pollen you had unwittingly sniffed while heading home after dessert the prior evening. That pollen, of course, being the late ’80s.

Dan Reed

January 31, 2008

It’s funny when someone on a forum asks about an artist or band from my hometown, and yet I’m left scratching my ass for answers. Nonetheless, recent mention of Portland hair metal’s most-likely-to spawned a few ruminations from yours truly.

I should know more about The Dan Reed Network than I actually do. Trouble is, they appeared to be (from their photos anyway) another hair metal band, edging onto CHR back when I was donning the one-eyed/trench coat Goth look (before the colorful, candy NuRo thing) and absconding radio for my own nascent record collection. Portland, you see, didn’t have an alternative radio station until 1991, by which point the very meaning of “alternative” had jumped the shark altogether, and I had moved onto prog/art rock and RIO anyway. Yes, I’ve come a long way in the last 20 years, but I’ve not come around to liking that late-’80s CHR/hair metal thang.

Dan Reed, likewise, has come a long ways to. Around 1999/2000, he opened up a nightclub here in Portland called (if memory serves) The Orb*. This club was being touted as a local base for the much-hyped (at the time) electronica scene. Reed had shaved his head and become very adamant in interviews about the obsolescence of guitars in the face of electronics (sorry Dan, that vision had already been realized to the best of its potential some 20 years earlier with the Cold Wave/New Romantic movement, which ‘you’ missed out on while riffing along to the likes of REO Speedwagon.) Now while I’m all for that part of the creative rigmarole called “artistic development”, I really, honestly believe that he was merely trying to grab the wheels of the latest musical trend as revenge against the grunge movement (hey, no argument there) which had fizzled his thunder in a swamp of manure just as things had been heating up for him and his band back in 1990/91.

*I was subsequently informed that his club had been called The Ohm, the former site upon which still half-hangs its dilapidated marquee
like dumped inventory.

Justine UK (1970)

August 21, 2007

From the unearthed recesses of English pop’s past comes this 1970 one-off by a mixed-gender hippie combo named Justine. And what do they sound like? Well, the sexy sighs of “Flying” make for the most erotic of acid folk numbers to have penetrated these ears, whilst the harmonies and arrangements betray a striking affinity for the departing stateside sunshine sound (think: Eternity’s Children or Free Design.)


July 25, 2007

An inquiry on Mod in a prog forum today prompted the following ruminations, drawn from my personal background in the subject of English rock subcultures.

I find it strange how the participants of the original Mod movement turned their backs on that scene entirely, with most of them becoming hippies, and how members of bands like The Action splintered into the likes of jam rockers Mighty Baby and smooth rockers Ace.

In contrast, the Mod revival (and the closely-related Two Tone craze) yielded many figures who would become lifelong loyalists of the Mod aesthetic. Paul Weller, for instance, has never really strayed from Mod, he’s simply moved from the youthful and raucous side of the Mod spectrum (cloning the early Who back in ’77) to a more mature and refined end, first by embracing the rhythmic and soulful elements which had been dear to the original Mods (the Stax and Motown affections of late-period Jam) and onto his modernized takes on early ’60s easy-listening and bossa nova styles with his next band the Style Council, apropos to the sophisti-pop (for want of a better term) movement of the late ’80s (Everything But the Girl, Swing Out Sister, etc.)

Now I’m not exactly sure whether those last styles were popular amongst the original Mods, who never even seemed to pick up on the original ska craze of the ’60s (well, except for Locomotive) but I have seen more current Mods embrace the softer end of the post-rockabilly/pre-progressive spectrum, particularly from the French and Brazilian musical quarters. Then again, newer Mods consider just about anything from the first British Invasion on up through the early popsike scene (Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera, Skip Bifferty) to be ‘Mod’, which lends greater latitude for their infinite loyalty to that scene, obviating their embrace of the ‘bloated’ developments in white rock which the original ex-Mods had perpetrated by the end of the ’60s.

Whenever I see a young Mod on the street, however, I can’t help but wonder will *he* become a hairy Neanderthal within four years time? These days, not likely. It’s just so funny how the ’60s made it look as though the metamorphosis from pixie haircuts with under-sized suits to Amish beards with slack, rural attire was some natural, predetermined rite of passage.

So who were the Mod bands and what did they sound like, asks the enquiring AOR/progster?

Right behind The Who and The Small Faces were:

The Creation

The Action

The Smoke

The VIPs – who briefly included Keith Emerson before he formed The Nice and the others became the popsike Art, who eventually added American Gary Wright and settled on the name Spooky Tooth, who went through numerous personnel shifts until late-period guitarist Mick Jones scrapped the band and salvaged their concluding style with a new band, Foreigner… how’s that for coming a looong ways from Mod?!

..and numerous others like The In Crowd (Steve Howe and Keith West‘s pre-Tomorrow configuration) The Game (who morphed into the proto-prog Grail) and the Bo Street Runners (Mike Patto‘s pre-Timebox unit.) I’d leave out The Syn because they were formed amidst the popsike explosion, the catalyst for a radically different set of aesthetics which buried Mod and wound up spawning hard rock and prog by the end of the ’60s.

Then there was the whole late ’70s Mod revival with The Jam, The Jolt, The Chords, The Purple Hearts, Secret Affair, etc. Additionally, the Two-Tone bands (The Specials, The Selector, Madness) were adopted by the Mods, though concerts were often marked by battles between waring factions of Mods and Skinheads.

The Dog That Bit People

July 3, 2007

Someone on progressiveears today complained how they felt that the 1971 eponymous one-off LP by The Dog That Bit People was a disappointing follow-up to early brass rock heavyweights Locomotive, in which several members had played with Norman Haines. Here was my response:

If you’re looking for a continuation of the Locomotive sound, you’re much better off with this:

The Norman Haines Band

The Dog That Bit People
arrived at a completely different musical location, which sat at the nexus between Beatlesque pop, folk rock, proto-symphonic, and the pervasive strands of country rock. In essence, DTBP were cut from the same early ’70s cloth as bands like Byzantium and Stackridge, and not Locomotive or The Norman Haines Band.

The Dog That Bit People

What I find really surprising is that Locomotive actually began their recording career as a ska band (yep, the original UK ska craze of the ’60s did in fact influence an Anglo act.) Hard to believe that the same group of guys who had been rude boys back in 1966 and ’67 would morph into brassy psych rockers in less than two years time.