Rhythm Beard

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Jan 312012
Grown To Catch Spills

Built To Spill, featuring Doug Martsch on Lead Beard (Foreground) and Brett Nelson on Rhythm Beard (Background)

Any long-term follower of discussions in the Hall will note the ongoing importance of discussing Look as a factor in the success of musical acts. Today, we’re exploring a lesser known but nonetheless important Look phenomenon: The Rhythm Beard. Continue reading »

Dec 172010

This holiday classic deserves a yearly airing. Please be thankful this holiday season.

This post initially appeared 12/23/08.

“Is that Orson Welles in the second row?”

Back in January, we celebrated the historic 23rd anniversary of the debut of the greatest supergroup in history, USA For Africa, and their most famous single, We Are The World.

Throughout 2008, Rock Town Hall spent some time talking about influences in rock, from the thieving ways of Buddy Holly to bands with little to no outside influences. USA For Africa was influenced by some precursor groups, such as the Concert For Bangladesh Band and, of course Band Aid, the primarily British/Irish Supergroup which launched the popular single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” in 1984, watching it reach #1 on the UK charts…but fail to reach #1 in America.
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Sep 152009

With tomorrow’s re-release of their catalog looming, this is as good a time as any to broach a seldom-discussed topic on Rock Town Hall: The Beatles.

Specifically, as the topic indicates, we’re looking for your opinion on what the actual most underrated Beatles song is. In a song line up as well-known as this, you might think it difficult to decide, but I’m sure such a straightforward question will allow us to easily reach a consensus.

“I’m still thinking it over…”

I’ll ask you to observe two qualifiers for this discussion. First, let’s keep things limited to the music you could find on the original albums, Magical Mystery Tour, and the first half of Yellow Submarine (unless you feel strongly that, say, “Pepperland Laid Waste” is the answer), plus all the singles-related material you could find on the Past Masters collections. Second, you can not choose “Rain.” As arguably the most famous least famous Beatles song, it is my firm belief that “Rain” has so thoroughly acquired a reputation as the most underrated Beatles song over the years that it is no longer truly underrated. Protest if you want, but any running and head-hiding will not change the fact that “Rain” is off the board for this discussion.

As always, you are encouraged to show your work on Rock Town Hall, so please explain why you think your particular nomination qualfies as the most underrated song in the Beatles’ catalog. Thank you in advance.

Apr 082009
I envy one person in this photo...

What Else Do I Have To Say?

A week or two ago, several Townspeople owned up to having seen Billy Joel in concert. In the spirit of those courageous admissions, I ask you: what is the least objectionable Billy Joel song? Please factor in lyrics, intent, unwarranted adoption of tough-guy persona, overall delivery, potential drunken singalongs, and that smug face of his if there was a video that went with it.

For some of you, this may translate as “most favorite of Billy Joel’s many hit songs” and to you, I say I’ll see you in hell thank you for sharing; this is a friendly, supportive environment.

Nov 072008

Here’s an oldie but goodie that gets to the heart of our “This Is Your Rock Town Hall!” reminders. Alexmagic had connections to at least one Townsman before delighting us with his comments, but like a number of other regular participants we now take for granted he wasn’t part of my personal inner circle. I believe this was Alexmagic’s first Main Stage contribution, appearing under my byline, as he had not yet had Back Office privileges in place. I still get chuckle out of it, and I still look forward to his comments and the promise of some more original posts. He’s not the only Townsperson whose take on rock we’d benefit from seeing on the Main Stage more regularly. This is your Rock Town Hall.

This post initially appeared 7/20/07.

Regulars in the Halls of Rock might have noticed a post from a newcomer, Townsman Alexmagic, in the comments section of yesterday’s hypothetical Beatles question. Those who do not follow as closely or who’ve been away might have missed it, so we’re bringing it to the Main Stage. Enjoy. Thanks, Alexmagic, and may you make yourself heard in these hallowed halls on a regular basis!

Unfortunately, this premise is flawed and presents a question impossible to answer, since the 1967 musical landscape would be radically different had the Beatles not shown up until this point. Instead, this should be approached as a complete alternate history (such as, “what would World War II have been like if aliens had attacked?”), contemplating the musical landscape of 1967 if the Beatles had never formed, though all would still have existed. We begin, then, with a starting point of Lennon and McCartney never meeting at the St. Peter’s Woolton Parish Church Garden Fete.

This new history means that there was no British Invasion as we know it. The “Fab Four” are Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell, Chubby Checker and Fabian, as the Original Philly Sound (which it would come to be known) sweeps the United States, and the Four make a series of popular, hijinx-filled teen movies about their shenanigans at the Jersey Shore, one of which debuts a young Bill Cosby. Chubby Checker will later spend the mid-1990s through the 2000s demanding that he receive the Academy Honorary Award prior to every Oscars telecast, dubbing himself “the soil Hollywood grows on.”

England responds to the clean-cut, genial sound gripping the States by countering with its own exports of boyishly-handsome actor/singers, possibly led by a young Davy Jones and (as he would be billed) Jimmy McCartney. I speculate that this Alternate Timeline Paul McCartney ends up with the lead in Alfie. John still ends up working with George Martin, but as a comedy record producer and part-time member of the Bonzo Dog Band. He gets into a fistfight with Peter Sellers on the set of I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! – which, for reasons that will soon become clear, is a film about surfing instead of hippies.
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Jun 232008

While the Rolling Stones continue to battle Rod Stewart and the Faces in the 1970s and once more find the merits of their later work in question in the Rock Town Hate thread, this seems as good a time as any to take a closer look at the oft-maligned cover of their 1986 Dirty Work album.

They come in colors...

As photographed by Annie Leibovitz, the Dirty Work cover could be viewed as testament of what had gone wrong for the Stones. Lounging about in garishly bright outfits, the band seemed to embody the ideas of 1980s excess and lack of taste. Indeed, this was something of a sign of the times, as the band photo was reportedly a record label mandate, and Dirty Work may have been the first Stones album to be released on both vinyl and compact disc.

Though perhaps not the most popular album cover in the Stones’ catalog, Dirty Work does stand as not just a symbol of the times, but also a commentary on the band itself. As someone once sang, every picture tells a story.
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Jun 132008

Earlier this week, Mr. Moderator provided an overview of the developmental history of the Rock Face as used by Robbie Robertson. There, he noted Robertson’s occasional use of a Rock Face to stand in for notes not even being played in the song.

Above is The Firm in their 1985 video for Satisfaction Guaranteed. Please review the materials and provide your thoughts on the performance of Jimmy Page contained therein. Specifically, please share your thoughts on Page’s moves while performing in the video.

Some questions for discussion after the jump.
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