Apr 012021
 

In preparation for a long-overdue post on the mystery that is Carlos Santana (coming soon to a Rock Town Hall near you), I was plowing through some vintage Santana performances, and came across the above, from 1977.  It’s not the greatest version of “Carnaval/Let the Children Play” I’ve ever seen or heard, but I was really taken by the performance of Pablo Tellez, the band’s bassist at the time.  As I watched him dig in to his instrument (watch in particular at 2:56, and again at 3:54), horsing every note out for maximum impact, I thought (paraphrasing one of my favorite scenes from “Master and Commander”):  that’s bassmanship, people; my God, that’s bassmanship.

Bassmanship, in my view, is the ability to stroke the thunderbroom in such a way that you bring extra life, extra swagger, extra joy, and extra extra to an entire band’s performance.  It doesn’t mean adding more bass-as-cock-extension hip thrusting, or more Lee Sklar tastiness, or more in-the-pocket/locking-with-the-drummer-whatever-that-actually-means-ness.  It means doing what Tellez is doing:  making you enjoy the music more by watching the bass player love what he or she is doing.

Who’s got bassmanship?  Well, this guy is the all-time heavyweight champion, in my view.  Just watch.  Don’t tell me he doesn’t know full well just how much he lifts the entire band with his subtle in-place sashay.

Or Dan Hartman, leading Edgar Winter’s White Trash into a whole ‘nuther groovy dimension in this live rendition of “Frankenstein”:

Bruce Foxton?  Oh, yeah; bassmanship.

You know who doesn’t have any bassmanship?  Bill Fucking Wyman.  I actually really dig his playing, but on stage?  Give me a break.  It’s like watching mold grow.

Just thought I’d share.  

HVB

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Mar 262021
 

I’m going to keep this simple. Below, you’ll find a brief selection from the couple-hundred country music 45s I chose to rip after my west Texas storage shed discovery a few years ago. In order to foster healing, understanding, and general RTH good vibes, I’m asking Mod to listen to each of these trackssss, and explain to all of us why he thinks they suck. Here we go:

Sure, a lot of classic country music is pretty sad stuff. But when you can put over a lyric like this one without a whiff of pretense… man, I dunno. Freakin’ George Jones can make me goddamn cry.

I used to have a problem with the “same-ness” of much classic country. Over time, I grew to appreciate the genius of the songwriters who were able to work within that same-ness to produce music that still moved me. BUT: here’s a track produced and co-written by the great Billy Sherrill that expands the traditional country music form to include pop-ish elements like bridges, turnarounds, and so forth. If nothing else, you should appreciate the fact that your precious Elvis Costello is a huge Billy Sherrill fan.

Okay, so country music doesn’t feature too many sick bass and drum breaks. But holy shit, the stuff they give the guitar player! And the pedal steel guy, and the piano man. Anyhow, this Bob Wills track pretty much blew my guitar-pickin’ mind.

… and of course, the fact that our precious rock and roll descended so directly from country music’s demon seed ought to count for something — right?

Anyhow, those are four tracks pulled out of my west Texas haul that — just maybe — might convince you that country music is worth listening to. But if you’re still in the naysayers column, at least do us the courtesy of dissecting these trackssss so we all can better understand the source of your anti-country-music bias.

I look forward to your response.

HVB

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Mar 262021
 

Self-described “Country Music Skeptic and Idiot” Mr Moderator is sold! This morning, he declared, to no one in particular, that Jimmie Dale Gilmore‘s Don’t Look for a Heartache the “greatest album the genre has ever produced.”

“Hands-down,” Mr Moderator said, when asked to expand on this statement, “it’s one of the only country albums that I’ve ever played twice in one day.”

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Mar 222021
 

Hey, gang! I just got off the phone with Milo T. Frobisher, the big cheese over at RTH Labs, and he asked me to pass this along: apparently, RTH Labs is trying to develop a set of quantitative rules/frames of reference for the analysis of how well live music is performed, depending on the age of both the performer and the audience — and the relative statistical intersection of those data cohorts.

What does this mean for you? Well, what RTH Labs needs is the year of your birth, followed by a short list of the live rock shows you’ve seen, the years you saw them, and a numerical assessment of the quality of the shows you witnessed (1-10).

Now, Frobisher acknowledges that a full accounting of all shows from all artists would be prohibitively time-consuming — and would likely result in an excess amount of non-repeating data that would be impossible to cross-tabulate across the RTH community. So what RTH Labs is looking for are data for shows performed by the following British rock dinosaur bands/artists only:

  • The Rolling Stones
  • Solo Beatles
  • The Kinks
  • Led Zeppelin
  • The Who
  • Pink Floyd

So, for example, my response would be:

  • HVB: 1964
  • Solo Beatles – Paul McCartney: 2006, 7 rock quality points (RQP); 2008, 5 RQP
  • Kinks: 1992-ish, 3 RQP
  • The Who: 1984, 5 RQP; 2007, 7 RQP

It’s that simple — unless you prefer to provide any footnotes that might shed light on your RQP assessment. (For example, I might choose to mention that Townsman Mockcarr and I were flummoxed by the Kinks’ choice to incorporate a lone dancer into their show, dressed in ballet taffeta, doing all the artsy swoops and swishes one might expect to see in a high school dance recital, as the band plunked away in the foreground. She would appear at random intervals above and behind the stage, leaping from one side to the other, a high kick here, a deft twirl there, for no discernible reason.)

Will you lend a hand? Milo assures me the data will reveal some interesting patterns worthy of further discussion.

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Mar 202021
 
A mono fetishist captured in the wild

The other day, EPG exulted in passing about having scored a mono copy of “Blonde On Blonde.” At first, I was like, whatever, you’re a record dealer, Dylan crazies will probably pay you a jillion dollars for that album, good for you, etc.

Then I got to wondering: is Gergley one of those people who thinks that mono is inherently superior to stereo? Such people do exist. I believe Joey Ramone was one — the lead singer guy from the Lyres was another. But there are others.

I’m not talking about people who think that music originally mixed in mono should be listened to in mono. I’m one of those people. I’m especially one of those people when it comes to the Beatles, up to the White Album. The Beatles themselves presided over their mixes, tweaking them to their detailed specifications, in mono. Then they went out to have a beer while the boffins dragged all the instruments over to this channel, and all the vocals to that one, and made the band’s stereo “mixes.” No thank you!

But I’m not asking whether you agree with me about the Beatles mono vs. stereo mixes. Anybody who disagrees with me there has rocks in his head. I’m wondering whether there are any arguments to be made for mono’s inherent superiority over stereo, in any circumstance. What do you think?

I look forward to your responses.

HVB

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