Aug 072009

We’ve approached this subject from a few different angles in the past and as Townspeople continue to age and try to figure out what it’s all about, Alfie, I’m sure this won’t be the last time this comes up. Recently I was listening to my “best of” CD mix that I made of the last three Nick Lowe albums (no surprise that Lowe is already back in the conversation, is it?), and I was thinking to myself, Although Nick’s music from the last 10 years is nowhere near as original and energetic as his early burst of activity, these favorte dozen songs of his from recent albums are beginning to make me think less of his first two albums. Jeez, I’m beginning to feel like much of his earlier works was “kids’ stuff!”

My conversation with myself continued, as I tried to put these thoughts in proper perspective: OK, nothing matches “Cruel to Be Kind” – and I’ll still stand by “So It Goes,” “I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass,” and “Big Kick, Plain Scrap!” – but if I’m honest with myself the rest of those first two album sink or swim on the strength of each song’s arrangements. I love “Skin Deep,” for instance, but it’s mainly because of the interplay of the guitars and the reliance of the quick switches from I to IV chords. The juvenile lyrics do little for me. “Cracking Up” just sounds cool, thanks to the guitar interplay; it’s basically a Dave Edmunds song with better vocals. Same goes for Lowe’s cover of “Switchboard Susan.”

Believe it or not, I wasn’t done having this discussion with myself: As for Pure Pop for Now People, that album always had a bunch of songs that were too juvenile for me to like. (Yeah, I know, I was old before my time and all that jazz. Deal with it!) “Marie Provost” has some good music, but how many times can I get off on the “doggie’s dinner” joke? “Heart of the City” is cool, but that gets back to my Dave Edmunds song with better vocals point…

I concluded by trying to better define my terms: So what I’m saying is that Nick Lowe’s “mature” work over his last three albums has threatened to put his beloved earlier works to shame – for me. Is there another artist whose mature works I can say that about?

I thought for a moment, and The Beatles were the first band that came to mind. Once I heard the relative maturity of the pot-smoking Beatles my love for their first couple of records, albeit great works, was overshadowed. But 2 years does not make the sort of leap into “maturity” that I think of with Nick Lowe. I thought about Dylan, whose acknowledged burst of pre-“motorcycle accident” activity is considered his peak. I really love the post-“motorcycle accident” album John Wesley Harding, at times to the point that it makes his earlier, ranting, accusatory works sound less powerful than I once heard them in my own younger, more prone to ranting, accusatory days. But Dylan’s output after that is so up and down that I can’t say any run of mature works ever threatened his mid-60s output.

I was left with Nick Lowe as the one musician whose mature works really threaten to put his beloved earlier works to shame. Do you see what I’m getting at? Have you faced this question with a longtime beloved artist?


  51 Responses to “Artists Whose “Mature” Works Threaten to Put Their Beloved Earlier Works to Shame”

  1. Tom Waits no doubt right?
    The whiskey soaked piano man schtick was cool as hell, but nowhere near as original or deep as the work of later years.

  2. BigSteve

    We Didn’t Start The Fire almost made me forget Piano Man.

  3. If this were 1992 I would say U2 and John Melencamp

    both have finally gone where just about everyone else has, recycling their former sound in hopes of attracting the fans they had back then

    Elvis Costello & The Impostors would also fit in this category

    I can’t think of anyone who’s last three records could form a “best of” that was better than their heyday

    …now I am depressed

  4. Mr. Moderator

    Waits works for me, shawnkilroy. I’d forgotten that he was ever young.

  5. Bob has hit a mark of consistency since Time Out Of Mind, but I don’t know if these records are as great as his earlier work. I like LOve and Theft about as much as anything else the man has done, but I am the first to admit that I’m weird about these things. But, I can say that there is a “consistency” to these newer records that rivals the consistency from his first album up to the “crash.” The rest of his career was marred with ups and downs spread pretty equally.


  6. Not trying to start trouble, but I’m amazed that anyone would bother to follow a career so mediocre as Nick Lowe’s. No offense, but when “Cruel to Be Kind” is your crowning achievement, the output before and after the peak just can’t be all that interesting. God bless ya when you’re trying to explain that colossal waste of time to St. Peter standing by the golden gates.

    See ya tomorrow,
    E. Pluribus

  7. Mr. Moderator

    EPG, your inability to like certain things astounds me. If I can find that cable we spoke about last night I’ll get some Marshall Crenshaw videos cued up for you.

  8. hrrundivbakshi

    I’ve also always been a bit underwhelmed by Nick Lowe’s early output. To me, he’s a classic Greatest Hits-only guy until these last few albums. But make no mistake: his last three or four records have been awesome.

  9. David Sylvian is one, for me.

  10. Nick Lowe isn’t that much better than Crenshaw. Lowe’s trump card is that he produced all those kick ass Costello LPs.

    And just to set the record straight, I own one Crenshaw LP, his first, which is semi interesting at best. Unlike you, I chose not to follow the career of someone with about as much talent as Emmit Rhodes and made the wise decision to keep my wallet in my back pocket for the next 25 years or so while the object of my short lived affection slowly but steadily went down the crapper.

    My biggest beef with you is that you most probably know every track on a CD like Lowe’s “Dig My Mood”, yet your knowledge of things vitally important, like the early Stones LPs is scant at best. They’re written off as R and B filler LPs which simply isn’t the case. Of all those British groups, the Stones were definitely the most gifted at covering and turd polishing. All the craft that went into the turd polishing served them well when they began writing their own songs. The development is clearly seen in those early LPs. It’s called homework, something Lowe should have spent more time on. Maybe it’s just me, but if you don’t know those LPs like the back of your hand, your commentary is fairly insignificant in all things pop.

    This all pretty trite, but it just really gets on my tit when a band like the Byrds continues to get their teeth kicked in while the examination of Lowe’s catalog is worthy of a bachelor’s degree, despite the fact that the man doesn’t have a single track close to something like “Eight Miles High”.

    I hope and pray that your ball and chain flops something on the table tomorrow night that I find palatable, just to keep my mouth occupied with something else other than the need to spew out invective. Honestly, I’m thoroughly fried from the celebration of the mediocre, whether it be for someone like Lowe or even worse Television.

    E. Pluribus

  11. BigSteve

    Face it, some people have no recourse but to change the subject when maturity is being discussed.

  12. Hey Hrundi,

    About a year ago, I pissed away a dollar on a CD called “The Best of Badfinger”. Their best was represented with the inclusion of “Come and Get It”, “No Matter What”, “Day After Day”, and “Baby Blue”. The remaining 11 tracks were, from what I could tell, randomly picked turds that did nothing but reduce the power of the objective quartet of greats. I picture a Lowe comp coming off much the same.

    Tbis is awful, but even the man’s name has a boring ring to it.

    I’ve heard a lot of Lowe’s new stuff. It’s nice, like James Taylor’s kind of nice. That may be all well and good for you, but I still need something that gives me a good kick in the ass, regardless of the fact that I now need crap like cheaters and Metamucil on a daily basis.

    E. Pluribus

  13. Mr. Moderator

    E. Pluribus wrote:

    My biggest beef with you is that you most probably know every track on a CD like Lowe’s “Dig My Mood”, yet your knowledge of things vitally important, like the early Stones LPs is scant at best.

    I own most of the early Stones records and – by far – prefer Brian Jones-era Stones to anything thereafter. I don’t recall the name of every filler track and cover song on every early Stones album, but I spin 12 X 5 and December’s Children more than any other non-hits collection (that High Tide and Green Grass collection continues to be my most-played Stones album).

    It’s called homework, something Lowe should have spent more time on. Maybe it’s just me, but if you don’t know those LPs like the back of your hand, your commentary is fairly insignificant in all things pop.

    I’m pretty sure Nick Lowe would know as much if not more than you about the music you treasure – and he’s made his own music for 40-some years to boot. YOU may want to spend more time learning about other developmental periods of music that would eventually add up to something great.

    I’ve got some great Crenshaw vids lined up for you, from his shaved head and hat era. I think you’ll dig them. He really paid his dues studying the Stones’ take on “Little Red Rooster.”

  14. Mr. Moderator

    Here’s another “mature” artist whose works I MUCH prefer to his earlier, catchy stuff: Paul Simon. I may not be qualified to suggest him, however, because I never really like Simon & Garfunkle a lot. Once he shed his sidekick his music got a lot better.

    You like the S&G stuff, right Plurbs? I can see why.

  15. hrrundivbakshi

    Mod says:

    He really paid his dues studying the Stones’ take on “Little Red Rooster.”

    I say:


  16. My dear friend,

    Joey Covington too has most probably made his own music for the last 40 years or so. Let’s just leave that at that.

    As always, your real message lies nebulously between the lines, i.e. I’m a big fan of Nick Lowe, and I’ll continue to defend the man as well as purchase his output be it medicore or awful until his pecker falls off. And that’s all fine and dandy with me, but just come out and say that instead of making a fool out of yourself defending some godawful bit of drivel that’s even worse than something like James Taylor. And to compare Lowe with Taylor is more than appropriate because a better version of today’s Lowe would indeed be Taylor: folksy, troubadourish, and charismatic. Granted Taylor is and continues to be boring as hell, but many arguably believe that has has all these quailites in spades. I too sometimes see the same Taylor as his cretinous fans. Lowe, at some point or another, purchased a similar kit as Taylor’s and worked with it studiously, but for some reason or another, it just never worked for him. All the elements are there, but nothing blends.

    Lowe is one of those guys who continues to be appreciated by musicians and songwriters, but really has no appreciation elsewhere, i.e. with human beings who listen to music for the sheer joy of it. All craft and no heart and soul. It’s ironic as hell that the one blood and guts thing he ever wrote, “Peace, Love, and Understanding”, was written as a joke.

    E. Pluribus

  17. For my money, making fun of somebody like Simon and Garfunkel is like making fun of the Beatles. They’ve definitely chalked up their share of Beatles’ caliber waxings. Granted, Paul Simon may have been pretentious as hell, but that pretention somehow or another made “Bookends” possible.

    Still, Lowe is celebrated for those INCREDIBLE life changing workouts like “So It Goes” and “Crackin’ Up” (maybe you’re right. “Mrs. Robinson” and “Homeward Bound” really pale in comparison), and Simon and Garfunkel get their teeth kicked in because they never really had the urge to ROCKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!

    Truth be told, this is more about fandom and indentification than actual musical merits. Like everything, it will all come out in the wash at some point or another.

    E. Pluribus

  18. Mr. Moderator

    Think what you will, my man, but you simply don’t have the taste for Lowe OR the ability to hear what anyone’s saying if they don’t share you lack of taste for something. There’s a big gap in my Nick Lowe collection for good reason.

    As a reminder that I suspect no one else needs, this thread is asking you (plural) to comment on whether you’ve ever felt this way about any artist that you love – for whatever reason. Try responding to a thread some day in-between your always amusing and appreciated (and often successful) attempts at pissing people off.

  19. 2000 Man

    I know plenty about those old Stones songs, and I find very little filler pretty much until they released Goat’s Head Soup. At least very little filler compared to most people in a run that long. I’ve really thought about this question pretty hard, and the more I think about it, the more I don’t think anyone fits the criteria. Nick Lowe’s old stuff is okay, but even he knows he had better days. Look at the big deal his label and Nick made about the rerelease of Jesus of Cool. I think that was one of thise things to try to help sell his new albums, which are probably the only things that were in print, so if you liked Jesus of Cool, then maybe you’d never notice he looked thirty years older on his other album covers.

    I don’t even think Bob Dylan deserves the accolades for his recent stuff. He just keeps making the same album over and over. It’s a good formula, but it’s just nice, comfortable music by a nice, comfortable old guy. He might as well be Leon Redbone. Love and Theft is a pretty good album, but it’s no Blonde on Blonde.

    I think as music morphs into craft, the things that attract me get all polished up and glossed over, until they’re all gone. I think ya gotta enjoy it while it lasts.

  20. And there it is! Well said, 2000 man!

    I too can’t think of a single artist whose mature works shame their early works.

    Another thing that inevitably goes after the golden years are over is the rhythm. Can’t speak for all, but as soon as that starts getting stiff and Sam Ash sounding, I’m out of there.

    Hands always need to be slapped too, and that ceases after the peak is reached as well. Turds are brought into the studio, accepted as decent efforts by all because no one has the energy to fight for quality control, and learned and performed in a very half assed way.

    Thanks for stepping up to the plate, 2000 man and taking a full swing.

    E. Pluribus

  21. The Nick Lowe BASHER cd (a best of) is one of the great power pop records (and contains 70% of Jesus of Cool and lots of Rockpile) but I kinda agree that he was a singles artist who never really made a great Album for himself (although produced many for others)but that BASHER CD is the sh*t though….

    (what a strange run-on sentence i just created)

  22. cher says:
    David Sylvian is one, for me.

    Now I LOVE japan’s last 4 albums.
    (Quiet Life, Gentlemen, Tin Drum, Oil on Canvas) I also think the 2nd one is ok. I really dig Sylvian’s solo career as well, but i gotta admit I feel he might have peaked after Secrets of the Beehive. I can’t be sure though, because I really just stopped listening after Rain Tree Crow and that first Fripp collaboration. I didn’t think those records were terrible, they just didn’t grab me the way his late 80’s work did.
    Those first 2 Mick Karn solo albums are also frigging amazing; Titles and Dreams of Reason Produce Monsters. Check them out if you haven’t!

  23. 2000 Man

    Maybe Robert Pollard can claim an improvement. I still haven’t gotten around to seriously checking out any GBV albums, but I think both Boston Spaceships albums are really good.

  24. Mr. Moderator

    E. Pluribus, I look forward to your posting of specifics on any related topics to this thread (eg, rhythm, quality control, the appreciation of any music without factoring in personal identification on any level). You seem to be hiding a sort of Rock Superman from our view, a being that knows objectively all that is good and right in music. This could be an important breakthrough!

    Meanwhile, I’m really looking forward to tonight. I’ve got some killer Crenshaw videos cued up for you. Have you seen the clips from a solo gig in Norway, I believe, in which he’s wearing a G.I. Joe cap and David Sanborn-style milky tortoise shell glasses?

  25. I’m with shawnkilroy about Tom Waits. I can only take that hipster 70’s shtick in small doses. His post-Swordfish stuff occasionally repeats itself but is much more interesting than the straight singer/songwriter stuff.

    I’m surprised that no one has mentioned Curtis Mayfield yet. I would, except that I think his Impressions-era stuff whups ass on the funk stuff.

  26. What kind of specifics do you need, for Christ’s sake? It’s real simple: 1) For the most part, people who’ve been in it long enough get secure and boring: fat and lazy, if you will. Their hunger to tell any sort of interesting story and tell it well via word or music is gone. If the story is remotely interesting, it’s usually because it’s a nod to some chestnut they’ve recorded in the past. What’s even more painful is the fact that most of these assholes don’t realize how truly awful their new work is while they’re in the thick of it. McCartney, Lou Reed, and if you want to go way down to the nether reaches of the list -your cornhole buddy Nick Lowe, all believe what they’re currently doing is just as good as what they did during their golden years. That’s even more horrifying than the music itself. Bob Dylan too has sucked for the last 35 years, but at least he’s decent enough to step up to the plate and admit that he isn’t the guy on the cover of “Highway 61” anymore.

    I’m gonna go out on a limb here and tell all what I listen to when I get in the car: WXTU, the country station. Someone once asked Charlie Parker why he listened to country music. His answer? The stories. Nuff said.

    Most of the new country is bad, REAL BAD, but once in a while they’ll play a song with a well told and performed story, about shit I can relate to: women, booze, problems regarding work, raising kids, and remembrances of the past. The worst songs are better than anything Nick Lowe’s recorded in the past 25 years. The best are as good as some of Haggard’s finest. None of it is of a Beatles/Stones caliber, but it’s certainly good enough for a long car ride to check out a record collection that’s chocked filled with Rod McKuen LPs, i.e. dogshit I can’t give away.

    Why can’t Lowe write something about what truly matters to him, i.e. those tiny discrepencies in the royalty checks he receives from “The Bodyguard” soundtrack. They most probably irk him to no end, and all that would serve as great song writing material. McCartney should do the same and write about his ups and downs with botox and getting hooked up with a one legged bandit. They just refuse to go there because they’re too mature for all that.

    The old farts are completely disconnected from reality. And most of them are just parodies of themselves. Like 2000 man stated earlier, all they have left is craft. And craft is nothing without a sincerely told story.

    It’s been ages since I’ve heard anybody discuss songwriting in terms of telling a decent story in some way or another. All talk is about the technology aspect of it. That’s fine and all, but it’s interesting to note that songwriting quality usually goes right down the shitter as Tech skills strengthen.

    And just for the record, there’s always a tech guy around. These days they number in the millions. A decent story teller is VERY HARD TO COME BY.

    People still send me demos of stuff they’re working on, which I’m always amazed at because I’m the last person anybody should send anything to. The best stuff is always what they’re most embarrassed about. It’s always thin musically, 9 times out of 10 it’s always about some awful thing that happened in the past, and the singing is usually off key because there’s too much pain in the lyrics to keep the singer’s focus on hitting the notes. The sad thing is that the charm of all this never lasts. The song is eventually given an electric arrangement that makes absolutely no sense with the words, and whatever beauty was once there is now completely gone. That said, my buddies’ capability to tell a story is still there, not so for the “old masters”.

    Whatever. You wanted specifics? These are my kind of specifics: the only kind of specifics that I give a shit about.

    E. Pluribus

  27. E. Pluribus, you are a grump of the highest order and I mean that in the most complimentary way.

    If Macca doesn’t write his “One Legged Bandit” song as you suggested, I might have to write it for him. Bravo! I will laugh about this for a few days, at least.


  28. hrrundivbakshi

    Coupla thoughts:

    1. Stevie Wonder has had a slightly lopsided bell curve of a career: very spotty early material, awesome mid-section, and lousy late period. I think his mid-career stuff, as compared to the early Motown material, qualifies him for this thread. Though his old fart material sucks for many of EPG’s reasons. Having said that:

    2. EPG’s rant is surprisingly lazy. Come on, Plurbie! Who gave you Vulcan mind-meld power to know for certain that old-fart artists have no interest in telling stories that really matter to them anymore? I’m with you on the frequent drifts into Sam Ash production-land — but that frequently has nothing to do with artist preferences.

    And (bringing this full circle) — you really should check out these last three Lowe albums. “The Convincer” in particular displays many of the qualities you *say* you appreciate in recently produced, and/or country, music.

    To your point about old farts not writing about shit that matters anymore: what on Earth makes you think Nick Lowe ever cared about any of that “Marie Provost”/”Heart Of the City”/”Cruel To Be Kind” shit, anyway? He was a full-on craftsman, all the time. In contrast, his last few albums are all about “real” stuff. In fact, he’s said many times that his latest is just a slap-dash assortment of songs he wrote in fits of anger, loathing and self-pity after his last marriage failed. You can hear it.

    I only get into Berlyant-ian backstory here because it seems to matter so much to you, all of a sudden. And, dude: I challenge you to find one Sam Ash guitar, or TAMA drum, or Alembic bass, on any of these recent Lowe tracks.

    Sigh. I wish you’d just *listen* to “The Convincer,” then report back. Mod, lend you copy to Plurbs when you see him, okay?


  29. Hrundi,

    Here’s to your perceptivity. It does matter all of a sudden, for reasons I’d like to keep to myself.

    Just for the record, I never said one whit about any of those early Lowe songs. To quote Bukowski in a way, let’s just say that someone once asked me what I think about Nick Lowe. I replied, “I don’t think about Nick Lowe.” To quote myself, “Lowe Blows.”

    Trust me, I’ll hear “The Convincer” in all its craft and Protools glory at the Moderator’s tonight. I’ll get it shoved up my ass in some way or another. I’m expecting a “Prairie Home Companion” rootsy workout that’s greatly appreciated by all musicians who play “Praire Home Companion” rootsy work out stuff but never seem to find an audience elsewhere.

    E. Pluribus

  30. latelydavid,

    I strongly urge you to write and record “One Legged Bandit”. The title has a nice ring to it. And feel free to send the demo to me. I’d much rather listen to the work of my buddies than the lastest paint by numbers offering from someone like Lowe.

    Hope all is well,
    E. Pluribus

  31. hrrundivbakshi

    Well, for the record, I cannot STAND “Prairie Home Companion,” so I know exactly what you fear from this album. But it ain’t like that.

  32. BigSteve

    I’m sticking with my theory that geezers over-value excitement and energy in the music produced by young people because it is the quality they most lack in their personal lives. When they decry craft as ‘paint by numbers’ and ridicule wisdom as boring they are transferring their fears about their own lives onto musicians who are simply convenient receptacles for their self-loathing.

  33. Hey BigSteve,

    Can’t you do something else while all this is going on, like finish a hook rug?

    E. Pluribus

  34. hrrundivbakshi

    You just said a MOUTHFUL, BigSteve!

  35. alexmagic

    McCartney already used up a “most flies they got three legs, but mine got one” lyric decades ago. I assume this is what’s kept him from writing “One Legged Bandit”.

    I don’t think Stevie Wonder counts for the spirit of this thread. You’d be comparing his peak period with his work as a teenager. I’m sure he was more mature in his 20s, but the dropoff once he crossed over into his 30s would be considerably lower on the curve than his output as a twelve year old, without even getting into his peak period.

    Wonder actually ’embarasses’ me as a fan much more than McCartney or Dylan whenever he turns up now. Whenever he gets interviewed these days, it turns out be really weird and uncomfortable. And when he shows up at whatever awards show or sporting event playing with any random person promoters feel like sticking him with, I always wonder who is in charge of OKing these things for him. Every time he gets stuck on piano with a Black Eyed Pea hopping around him, I always feel compelled to say something like “he really was great, you know.”

  36. BigSteve

    I can do both, epg. Hope all is well.

  37. Mr. Moderator

    The funny thing about this supposed effort to shove the very good, recent Lowe recordings up E. Plurbie’s ass is that the “best of” mix I made last New Year’s was made for EPG! No joke. The CD even reads his Christian name, which I shall not mention in the Halls of Rock. We had a get-together with friends over the holidays, and I made mix CDs for each of my friends of stuff I thought they should hear, you know, self-important educational stuff you half-dread your friends pushing on you. Everybody got their CD but Plurbie. I didn’t want him to spoil the gift. My other friends, good and socially motivated cowardly souls that they are, probably threw their CDs in a pile somewhere, maybe never listening to them. That’s cool. As the evening approached and I started to think about EPG’s reaction *I* chickened out and decided against giving him the CD so that he could one day spin it once and then say all this shit that he could only be expected to say! At the time I felt it better to be a wuss and not deal with it. When I see my friend tonight, I’ll have the CD on hand, but I’m not sure if I should give it to him. I’ll let a new RTH poll determine the CD’s fate!

  38. hrrundivbakshi

    Come on, Mod! If you’re going to get all Nerdy Nerdlinger about what to do with EPG’s Lowe gift, you need to go whole-hog and post a track list so we can complain about your crappy song choices!

    What’s that track list, my man?

  39. Mr. Moderator

    I’ve gotta get home so I can dine with my friend now. More later tonight or in the morning!

  40. 2000 Man

    BigSteve, I think I’ve got enough excitement in my life. I’ve always really liked living it anyway, and I’ve always been glad I got to be me instead of someone else. I don’t know if I agree with EPlurb’s “stroy” theory, cuz if that’s the thing then the Drive By Truckers are certainly blowing the doors off of commercial country radio by a country mile. But most older acts aren’t doing anything anywhere near their glory days. Maybe it’s because we know their tricks or what to expect. It’s not like someone like U2 is gonna take a chance on not selling a billion ipods with their next album – they’ve got to perform sales wise or they won’t get the lucrative car commercials.

    I’ve got to hand it to Paul Westerberg – he certainly hasn’t just relied on craft, and he sings about stuff I can relate to in the pre-dotage part of my life. He keeps it sloppy by refusing to get a real drummer, but I certainly don’t think his solo career is quite up to the snuff the Replacements did. I’d go pretty deep into the Mats catalog before I’d make the cut for one of his solo albums, and I really like his solo stuff quite a bit.

    I think what happens in the rock world is that when craft comes to be the strength the artist relies on, he starts throwing out those ideas that he never had before, and those are the ideas I generally like the most. They get replaced with the familiar things the artist has done before. Which is okay, but I only like to buy things once, usually.

    I really like John Doe’s solo career a lot, too. But I wouldn’t trade his X career for it any day. I think people are just more fun when they’re kids and everything seems so new, even if Chuck Berry did it all sixty years ago.

  41. BigSteve

    Certainly the search for novelty is part of it. Rock grew out of consumerism, and consumers require a steady stream of new stuff to consume. The weird thing is that the totally new is not what most people want. The exact same thing continues to sell, in new formats or in improved, i.e., remastered, versions, and some people just listen to their old records and ignore anything after a certain date, usually the year they graduated from college. Some people will buy a new Aerosmith album, and Aerosmith obliges them by periodically releasing essentially the same album over and over.

    Some of us buy new artists, but only those that work variations on the same styles we’ve liked in the past. And I guess a small percentage are always looking for completely new sounds, which is much easier now with so many different musics from all locations and all eras just a click away.

    My friends were probably more fun when we were younger too, but most of them have stayed friends anyway. There’s more to life than fun.

  42. BigSteve, I completely understand this concept of new versus old. Some of my friends have even gone so far as to accuse me of being stuck in certain period musically. I’ll admit that most of my collection is comprised of “classics” and that my own musical encyclopedia doesn’t go too far past 1995. I still like to claim that I buy and listen to new bands and new music. And I do, but I always go back to my beloved classics.

    This is always highlighted when I make a mix for someone. I recently got involved with a group that trades mixes once a month. There is a theme to each disc. This month’s was back-to-school. While I worked and planned a pretty good mix that was designed to flow, shock, and entertain, I was disappointed that there wasn’t as much “new” music as I would have liked. I knew that most of my fellow traders would probably load their discs with all the hip new groups and artists. Meanwhile, I stuck to the Chuck Berrys, Paul Simons, and Big Star. I’ll stand by my mix as I think it turned out pretty good. But honest to John, I tried to find some new tunes to fit the bill. Perhaps I just don’t KNOW the new stuff like I do the oldies.

    Maybe I’m just griping about feeling old.


  43. New music is in the eye of the beholder. There’s a lot of stuff that is new to me that has been around for decades. There’s a whole world full of old soul, R&B, honkey tonk, ska, etc. Why not start sifting through that if you’re looking for something new? Maybe a lot of that stuff has a sameness to it as well but at least the tones are better and the recordings more interesting.

    There are even a few “legacy” artists with whom I’m still getting acquainted. Until a few years ago, I had never heard Hunky Dory, Ziggy and Aladdin Sane by David Bowie. I knew the singles but that was it. I’m still the same way about the Kinks. All I own by them is Kronicles and Misfits. I’ll get to them eventually. And just recently, as documented in these halls, I developed a new found appreciation for Sleater Kinney.

    A guy I used to work with listens to nothing but new indie bands. He made me several mixes and for the most part, the music was pleasant enough, just kind of bland. The only song that stood out was Burnt Jamb by Wheezer. I only know two of their other songs, but this one was good enough to make me consider getting some more, but the rest of the bands were pretty interchangeable. I’m not sure what it is that leaves me wanting but maybe it’s the sameness of the production/recordings. Or maybe rock really is dead. It’s been over 50 years now and there are only 12 notes. How long can it be expected to sustain itself?

  44. I’m with you, cdm. New is in the eye of the beholder. All music is new to you if you’ve never heard it before. I guess I’m feeling like I want to have faith and hope in new artists who can carry the banner of greatness that has been established by my heroes.

    I heard Heorge Harrison once say that part of a recording’s appeal can be found in the way it was recorded as well as the song itself. I can get behind that. There’s always a stirring my soul when I hear a record made in Memphis in 1969. Something about the room, the players, and the songs. I just like the way older records sound, man.


  45. I’ve wracked my brain backwards and forwards and I can’t think of a single artist or band that I’ve listened to over the years whose newer stuff rivals their earlier stuff in quality. At first I went with U2, cuz they’ve put out some rather thoughtful, reflective records over the years as they’ve approached their sparkly balloon flight into older age–but then, they made some rather thoughtful, reflective records (ridiculously so, for a bunch of young 20-somethings) as sweet-faced kids back in the early 80s as well. Nope, can’t go there. Morrissey, maybe? No, same difference, at least where I sit. See? Nothing doing!

    Now, I know that’s only two out of loads of artists I could name (who’ve actually lived long enough to have both an early and late career; let’s not forget that wrench in the works), but being the unforgiving heiffer I am, I don’t really know if the early output of a band or artist not in possesion of those things which grab fast and hold tightly from the get-go would have me hanging around long enough to listen to the latter output for any kind of unbiased (ha!) biased opinion (well, some things have been known to grow on me, I’ll admit. Couldn’t stand The Who for the longest time growing up–until I was old enough to appreciate what they were getting at. Ditto for Hendrix).

    I’ll keep working on it, though. An intriguing question, Mod. That’s why they pay you the big ass bucks, eh?

    Sweet and Low(e),


  46. Ian Hunter’s antepenultimate album Rant is the best of his career and the follow-up Shrunken Heads suffered only by comparison to Rant. Man Overboard, out a few weeks ago, is quite different and too new for me to comment.

    He rocked like hell live week before last in NYC as well.

  47. BigSteve

    It occurred to me just now that Peter Gabriel qualifies as someone who got better as he got older, though I don’t know if I would describe his early work with Genesis as ‘beloved.’

  48. BigSteve, now that you mention it, yeah, I agree on the Peter Gabriel thing. The Genesis era would have frightened me (well, I was still quite the preschooler back then; the roar of store delivery trucks sent me into a complete panic as well, lol), but I’ve appreciated him here and there from around the time I first heard “Games Without Frontiers” a few years later. Good one.


  49. Mr. Moderator

    Don’t real Genesis fans love early Genesis, which is all about early Gabriel? I wonder how they really feel about his maturation. As a non-Genesis fan, I agree that Gabriel’s music became tolerable and even sometimes enjoyable from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway into his first few solo albums.

  50. BigSteve

    The real test will be whether his next album matches the heights of his earlier solo work. I believe it’s scheduled to come out in 2019.

  51. Practically everything Radiohead’s put out since has been a vast improvement on Pablo Honey, including their current stuff.

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