Jan 122022

Greetings Fellow Citizens,

Since it’s been quiet around here, it might be a good time for an All-Star Jam! Plug in your axe, take your amp off standby, grab your sticks, figure out which bass string is E and let this thread open the door to intelligent rock and roll discourse!

1. What do you think of this performance of “Let My Love Open the Door?” Do you have any comments on the song, the performance, the fashion choices or anything else?

2. You’ve been given the opportunity to form a band for your favorite underrated songwriter or singer/front-person. Who is the “star” and who is in the band? You want to put together a surprising yet appropriate group. What unlikely or never-considered musical collaboration would you put together?

3. Uh-oh, your favorite underrated songwriter turned out to be difficult to work with! You’ve decided to scrap that band and put together the worst possible band, just to be creatively vengeful. Who is in this band now?

4. Have you ever been to a show headlined by a known artist (ie not a “local” band) where the audience cleared out? Who was the artist and why did everyone leave?

5. What is the best guitar solo in the Beatles catalog?

6. Do accordions belong in rock music?

7. Odd meters (talking songs in 5, 7, etc): are they pretentious? Do you have a favorite song in an odd meter?

8. What have you been listening to lately? Have you found any interesting music that is new or new to you?

I look forward to your responses, citizens.

May 132021

It’s been a while – the standard text is below. Not sure Mr. Mod wants to continue to be the contact for the “mockcarr option.” I’m trying SoundCloud as a host for this music, and they may pull it down since it is likely copyrighted. But in the meantime – what are your impressions of this track? And do you have any idea which well-known musician plays a prominent role in this production?


Let’s review the ground rules here. The Mystery Date song is not necessarily something I believe to be good. So feel free to rip it or praise it. Rather the song is something of interest due to the artist, influences, time period… Your job is to decipher as much as you can about the artist without research. Who do you think it is? Or, Who do you think it sounds like? When do you think it was recorded? Etc…

If you know who it is, don’t spoil it for the rest. Anyone who knows it can play the “mockcarr option.” (And I’ve got a hunch at least one of you know this one.) This option is for those of you who just can’t hold your tongue and must let everyone know just how in-the-know you are by calling it. So if you know who it is and want everyone else to know that you know, email Mr. Moderator at mrmoderator [at] rocktownhall [dot] com. If correct we will post how brilliant you are in the Comments section.

The real test of strength though is to guess as close as possible without knowing. Ready, steady, go!

Jan 012021

WB was the kind of friend who could get you into awkward and troublesome situations, but if things didn’t go wrong, then we had a whole lot of fun (bonus: he was shameless about talking to girls while I played the part of the quiet sidekick). There we were at the Spectrum, waiting for the Psychedelic Furs to take the stage. Pretty In Pink was a big hit, the joint was packed. WB turned to me and said, “When the Furs come on, we have to go up front!” I looked around from our seats in the 12th row and said, “We ARE up front! We can see, we can hear, we have room around us, this is great – we’re good here.” “No,” he said, “we have to go ALL the way up front!” He was resolute, no point in further discussion. Not wanting to get ditched, I reluctantly agreed. Much of our dynamic was this way.

We pushed our way into the crowd at the edge of the stage, no doubt ticking off a few kids whose (correct) perception was that there was no room for any more people. I found myself jammed up against a metal fence, crushed and uncomfortable. My left arm was pinned. I worried that if the crowd started moving, I wouldn’t be able to protect myself or keep my balance. I figured I could wriggle my arm up and rest it atop the fence, but once I got my arm free, I realized the fence was higher than my shoulder and unless I got a foot taller, broke my arm, or came down with a case of Rickets, there was no way my plan would work. I had two choices – put my arm back down where it was immobile, or hold my arm up in the air like an idiot. I chose the latter.

So there I am, standing there with my arm aloft like a New Wave Statue of Liberty, the lights go down, the crowd cheers, the band comes out and launches into the first song. Eight bars go by and a spotlight reveals lead singer, Richard Butler, sauntering onto the stage with that laconic confidence that screams, “love me” to his loyal followers. As he walks downstage, he makes a beeline – to me! He struts over, grabs my hand and gives a vigorous shake! Richard Butler shook my hand, HOW COOL IS THAT?!

I felt energized by the handshake from a rock star and it tamped down how silly I felt about standing there with my arm in the air. A few songs later, Butler made his way towards me – and shook my hand AGAIN! Well, that was also cool. A few songs later, he did it again but the excitement was turning sour. When he shook my hand for the 5th time, I began to feel tormented. “Hey Richard,” I wanted to say, “stop shaking my hand! You don’t understand – I can’t put my arm down! Please make it stooooooooop!”

Of course, after a while the crowd had spaced out a little and I was able to lower my arm. It was then that I realized why WB wanted to get close- he’d brought a water pistol to the show and was getting a kick out of trying to squirt the band members. Yes, that is a weird thing to do.

What about you – have you had brushes with greatness at a big rock show? I’m not talking about singing Freebird at your local with your friend’s band. I mean, did you get a handshake? Did the singer hold the mic out to you to sing the chorus of the song? Did you get pulled onto stage to dance? Did the lead guitarist jump into the crowd and play a solo right in front of you? Maybe you got the jackpot – going backstage after the show? Hopefully your experience was less of a torment than mine!

Sep 142020

20 albums Rolling Stone loved in the 1960’s that you’ve never heard.”

Who could resist this double-stuff’d headline challenging knowledge of 60’s music while promising that any unknown album on the list is an obscure gem endorsed by a genuine Rolling Stone critic? The premise is win-win, but the reality? Leading off with a Judy Collins album containing her rendition of “Both Sides Now” is questionable – a top 5, gold-selling album doesn’t beacon “unheard” status. Perhaps meant as a soft landing, the list then swerves through several variants of hippie rock, proto-art rock, anti-commercial parody rock, overly-twee and precious folk, or albums with musicians or producers whose other projects are more well-known. I jammed all these goodies into a playlist and dug in. The groovy pastoral vibes of Collins’ sparkle-folk were countered by the absolute stink-eye from my wife until I sank in shame and clicked the player into unknown territory….

Out of these 20 albums, I felt that some deserved obscurity, others not. The sonic patchouli is overwhelming at times, and even some more dialed down selections made me wonder if I was in an elevator. I thought there were a few rockers and worthy contenders here. But what do YOU think? Do these albums belong on this list for being unheard? Do these albums deserve the love that RS bestowed upon them? Has Rolling Stone presented you with the revelation of the best album you’d never heard? What say you: treasures, or trash?

Dec 072015

For some time, I’ve been thinking about starting a thread about prosody and the relationship of words to music. Ironically, I’ve never been sure I had a substantial premise to spur a conversation and I’m not sure what I want to say.

Recently I was in a conversation about the Police song, “Every Breath You Take,” about how the song was misinterpreted as being romantic, when really the lyric is basically about stalking. I can see how giving the lyrics less than half of your attention might lead to misinterpretation—but this is heavily aided by the lyrical nature of the music itself. Perhaps Sting abetted misinterpretation by mismatching the sentiment of the lyric to the lilting music he wrote. As little credence I give to Puff Daddy’s rap appropriation of the song, perhaps his changing of the lyric to “I’ll be missing you” is actually a better match.

Contrast this against another misunderstood song, REM’s “The One I Love,” where the music really matches the anger of the lyric and the misinterpretation come from a narrow view of noting that the singer loves someone (and the listener’s projection of this onto themselves) and disregarding everything else. Here, I pin the guilt upon those listeners.

But for my favorite example of a prosody mismatch, here’s a special nugget, which I heard on a CD handed out at the Philly Music Conference, circa 1994. This song sounded dated to me back then, the product of some suburban local band still into Scandal and Pat Benatar. To me, the combination of this (trying-to-be) strident and tense music and the serious subject matter of the lyric, leads to a tragicomedy of a chorus, where the feeling of the music undermines the lyric. Bear with this song by Keiran Kacy for 1 minute:

Oops! So painful, on several fronts.

Then there are songs where the feel of the music leads to an obvious musical direction (or v/v). XTC’s “Here Comes President Kill Again” seems to fit this model. Here, I think the songwriter walks a high-wire of having to match the music to the lyric, otherwise, they run the risk of the type of comical mismatch in Keiran Kacy’s song.

Oct 052015

Hello Young Lovers,

Are you ready for a night of romance with an unknown stranger? What can you divine about our Mystery Date with only sound, organized in time? Where is your date from? When is your date from? Do you know who your date actually is? (If you do, then shhhhh!) Would you go out with your Mystery Date again?

If you know who it is, don’t spoil it for the rest. Anyone who knows it can play the “mockcarr option.” (And I’ve got a hunch at least one of you know this one.) This option is for those of you who just can’t hold your tongue and must let everyone know just how in-the-know you are by calling it. So if you know who it is and want everyone else to know that you know, email Mr. Moderator at mrmoderator [at] rocktownhall [dot] com. If correct we will post how brilliant you are in the Comments section.

Listen on and decide if you are wanting to get lucky!

Jul 072015

The mullet. The worst haircut of all time. What excuse can be made for sporting this atrocity? And on a Beatle, no less! I ask you: Is this the worst look ever sported by any Beatle, at any point in time? Was this a cool, cutting-edge look on Macca, before it filtered into the general population? Combining the mullet with the sleazy mustache brings the look down even further. I’m thinking, as far as Beatle looks goes, this is the bottom, the worst.

My goal here, however, is to be wrong. Can you find a photo of a Beatle sporting a worse hairdo than this? Can we, once and for all, determine the worst-ever style on John, Paul, George or Ringo?


Lost Password?

twitter facebook youtube