Jan 232014
 
Hand over the, uh, belt.

Hand over the, uh, belt.

You know the rules for the Battle Royale: this is not a “Last Man Standing” affair, where the goal is to list as many of something as possible; no, in the Battle Royale, your job is to find the indisputable pinnacle — or, in this case, the nadir — of a particular category.

Here, we seek the absolute worst artist or band promo shot — one that is or was an undeniably awful choice for the intended “promotional” purpose. Only major or mid-tier-label recording artists need apply; I don’t want to see links to sites that collect bad promo shots from neighborhood goth or death metal bands, as humorous as those may be. Neither do I want to see album covers (sorry, Orleans!). No silly candids or stage shots. I want promo pictures, or photos clearly posed and taken for media outlets/rock magazines.

I’m starting things off with a tantalizing glimpse of hair metal B-listers Pretty Boy Floyd. Can you beat that?

As we say ’round these parts: hand over the belt!

I look forward to your responses.

HVB

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Dec 052013
 

So it occurred to me the other day that if aliens were to beam down from Mars and ask “Hey what do the Clash sound like?” and I could play them just one song … it would be “Safe European Home.” I know, I know Give ’em Enough Rope is a bit muddled production-wise, but this song has almost every Clash touchstone: the classic Mick Jones single-note guitar, the typical Clash Break … the reggae bit at the end, and Joe’s classic singing. When he hits the “They got the weed, they got the taxis” the song achieves “lift off” in my opinion — in a way few Clash songs do.

I’m up for a Battle Royale here. (My guess is this is well-trod ground.) Look it may not be the “best” song in their cannon … but truly emblematic in my humble opinion. What’s better?

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Nov 162013
 

As the classically trained musicians in Yes  hold down a cubed time signature while guitarist Steve Howe‘s wild runs through the Pixarlodian scale, focus on singer Jon Anderson. He shakes a single maraca, holding it close enough to the mic to be heard clearly. We’ve studied before the things singers need to do during long solos,  but Anderson’s single-maraca shake takes the cake.

Jon Anderson had brass balls, if for no other reason for singing the way he did. I listened to the awesome late-period Yes song “Going for the One” at the gym this morning. Anderson sings so high that he could have sung the song an octave lower and still cut through the fury of advanced chordings. Maybe that’s the range God intended his voice to occupy, and if that’s the case, He is a good god, for He gave Jon Anderson the brassiest balls in rock.

Battle Royale: Does anyone in rock have brassier balls than Jon Anderson?

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Sep 202013
 

Has any musician given a more relaxed performance than Kenny Rogers in this performance of “Ruby” with The First Edition? Beside Perry Como, that is. Has a song’s punch line ever been delivered with more restraint? Typically quiet instruments like muted guitars, tambourines, and the rhythmic tapping of a hand on an acoustic guitar body overpower Rogers’ laid-back vocal delivery. The song actually benefits from his approach. I lean forward everything he cautions Ruby not to take her love to town.

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Scream Meme

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Sep 052013
 
It’s a simple question: Is there a better, more iconic rock scream than Roger Daltrey‘s wail in “Won’t Get Fooled Again”?

It could be a wordless scream, or just one word like Daltrey’s “yeah!” Maybe it’s a whole line or verse or song belted out with rage or destroyed vocal cords. Perhaps something less old school, like Trent Reznor in “Head Like a Hole” or Billy Corgan‘s rat in a “caaaaaage” in “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”.

Does Robert Plant have anything to bring to the challenge here? To start things off, I submit the “Immigrant Song” wailing as a top contender to the throne.
Please offer up your best candidates!
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May 072013
 

I’ve long thought the fat-assed, late-’60s Beach Boys who took the stage for some television performance in all white suits displayed the most clueless stagewear in the history of rock. At least they matched, but the form-fitting suits were all wrong for some of the forms that band offered.

This morning I stumbled across a band with a much worse sense of style. The Unit 4 Plus 2, as seen in the above clip, had absolutely no sense of fashion, at least on the day they showed up for this television appearance. They make Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show look like Audrey Hepburn.

Your mission today is to find a band with a worse sense of fashion than Unit 4 Plus 2. The winner of this Battle Royale will be graded on misguided trend-hopping, lack of coordination, poor tailoring, etc.

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Dec 232012
 

John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” and Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmas Time.” Amazing, isn’t it, that the John vs. Paul thing can be expressed so perfectly in the Christmas songs that each released.

John’s anti-religion (“Xmas” instead of Christmas), anti-war, thought-provoking song:

vs

Paul’s silly love song, holiday edition”

I think John’s song is the better, more creative, more distinctive one but, damned, if I’m not singing along every time Paul’s comes over the radio waves.

How about you?

SHOWDOWN (Choose One): "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" or "Wonderful Christmas Time"?

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