Nov 292021
 

Seriously? Nobody is going to post about Get Back?

I’ve always felt like a Beatles neophyte around here. I only read my first Beatle book about 2 or 3 years ago, while some of you seem to have a wing of your personal libraries devoted to them. I don’t own all their albums. I haven’t even heard all of their songs despite the fact that they’re readily available on Spotify. But they’re the Beatles for chrissake! Even as a Stones guy I can admit that they had the greatest run of any band ever. And I’m enjoying the hell out of this unprecedented peek behind the curtain. Watching them make up songs on the spot that would go on to be so ubiquitous for the next half a century is fascinating, as is hearing them glibly sniffing around the idea of disbanding. This show is great and I can’t tell if everyone is too jaded to be impressed or has collectively moved to other platforms (I suspect the latter).

I’m only partly though the second episode but here are some of my observations so far:
– Mal Evans looks like an extra from the Benny Hill show;
– Magic Alex appears to be adding nothing of value;
– I’m increasingly nervous about the pressure being put on Glyn Johns to compensate for Magic Alex’s shenanigans;
– Michael Lindsey Hogg is terribly irritating;
– Yoko was very close to being rehabilitated in my mind but all that has now been erased. Good lord, she is the worst;
– Paul is somehow both the most annoying guy in the band and the most understanding guy in the band;
– After a solid 4 decades of being my least favorite Beatle, Ringo has emerged as my favorite. This isn’t based on Get Back alone. It’s been in the works for a while but even I’m not totally sure how I arrived here.

Anyone else care to chime in?

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Nov 232021
 

As world leaders fly to Glasgow to talk about climate change and catch and spread COVID among themselves in one of the most highly infected corners of the world this week, I wonder if anyone can think of a more poignant and thought-provoking summation of the state of our world than this?

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Nov 192021
 

It’s just come to my attention that Martin Scorsese is directing a biopic about the Grateful Dead. In the spirit of the casting call that we had for Downtown Abbey a while back (https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/meet-the-cast-of-downtown-abbey/2/), I propose we help Marty out by providing some casting suggestions. Jonah Hill has already signed on as Jerry. I’m leaning toward Seth Rogan as Pigpen. Let’s hear your ideas!

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Nov 192021
 

I just finished watching the enjoyable and nostalgic documentary “Somewhere You Feel Free” about the making of Tom Petty’s Wildflowers. Some mindless related web surfing led me to this photo, supposedly from 1976, which was followed by more trails leading to various subjects like Dwight Twilley and Phil Seymour (did you ever notice the striking similarity between the juicy guitar riffs of Twilley’s “I’m on Fire” and Petty’s “Strangered in the Night”?), Leon Russell and Denny Cordell (Shelter Records), Tom Leadon (Mudcrutch).

It’s obvious what set me off searching for more information: Who the heck is the extra dude in this photo, standing next to Petty and wearing the perhaps silk Japanese baseball jacket or kimono? It sure looks like an official band photoshoot, but it could be an interloper, guest, or studio collaborator. I found no answers (it’s surely none of the above-mentioned people) and no mention of there ever having briefly been a 5th Heartbreaker.

Townspeople, can we figure this out? There’s probably a simple answer rather than a big rock mystery.

One too many heartbreakers.

(L-R: Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, Tom Petty, ?????, Ron Blair, Stan Lynch)

(Update — see later comment regarding this newly found photo.)

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Nov 052021
 

Did you ever wonder what it would be like if Skunk Baxter, Jay Ferguson, Bob Welch and members of Spirit, the Doobie Brothers, REO Speedwagon, the Knack, Heart, and Manassas did a bunch of blow and then plugged in the old guitars and just fucking went for it? Me too! I’ll bet it would look a little something like this…

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Sparks Propaganda

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Nov 042021
 

I sometimes feel like it’s a failing of mine that I don’t “get” some Rock Nerd sacred cows such as Pet Sounds, Nina Simon, and most of Joni Mitchell’s catalog. These are but a few examples of art/artists held in high regard by a lot of friends with excellent and generally comparable musical tastes to mine. Why don’t I get it? Am I too musically unsophisticated? Am I shallow? Maybe, just maybe, could this be a difference of opinion and taste instead of some shameful personality deficiency?

I will revisit some of this stuff every few years to see if my tastes have evolved in a way that will allow me, for instance, to appreciate the bittersweet, openheartedness of Tony Asher’s lyrics, but for now they still sound like a Hallmark greeting card. So far, Raw Power has been the only one to break through.

I will, however, read a bio or watch a documentary about almost anyone, even if I despise their music (Twisted Sister), despise them as a person (David Crosby), or both (Papa John Phillips). And so, I ended up watching The Sparks Brothers on Netflix last night, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I first heard of them when they appeared in the mid-70s disaster movie Rollercoaster. Similar to when I saw Devo on SNL for the first time, I couldn’t tell if Sparks was a real band or a joke. Over the years, I’ve taken an occasional stab at listening to some of their stuff. I definitely do not like their music. But this documentary is great. I found their relationship with each other and their relentless pursuit of a shape-shifting muse to be really endearing. Even though I can’t find any musical common ground with them, I’m glad that I live in a world where they exist. Much like Rush, I like everything about them except for their music.

I highly recommend the movie. There have been Sparks posts on RTH in the past and our staunchest Sparks defenders are AWOL, so that leaves it to me, a non-Sparks fans to try and convince you to check it out. There will almost certainly be some moments that will annoy some of you, but I encourage you to power through to the end. It’s worth it. Come on, these guys have been at it for 50 years, can’t you spare them 2 hours?

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