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?

Apr 142015


Can somebody explain Todd Rundgren to me?

I am a fan of some of his songs, but even the highly praised Something/Anything I’ve found to be uneven. A Wizard, A True Star is frustrating – sounds really weird but has some amazing moments. I’ve sometimes sensed maybe a mismatch between his musical concepts and his presentation of himself, that he’s basically an earthy guy whose visual image often is disconnected from his musical concepts, or he’s trying to force something. He is clearly extremely talented, his sense of melody and harmony can be amazing. But somehow, all together it has never really clicked for me beyond a song-by-song basis.

Apr 032015

Steve Marriott, wearing white sweater with rings across chest.

Steve Marriott, wearing white sweater with rings across chest.

It’s been a while since we cast a film, but with the news that Martin Freeman has been cast as Steve Marriott we have a real life opportunity on our hands! Who plays Kenny Jones? Ronnie Lane? Ian McLagan? How about Ian’s predecessor in the band, Jimmy Winston? Who else might appear as a character in this film?

Scanning Mariott’s Wiki page, I see names such as Marianne Faithful, Brian Epstein, Pete Townshend, Rod Stewart, Peter Frampton, and of course, a scene where Mariott auditions for the Rolling Stones! That’s a lot of casting.

Let’s start by casting the band, then see which other roles we can fill. I’ll start by nominating Danny Strong for the role of Kenney Jones.

Nov 242014

Hello Everyone,

I don’t really mean to be the primary instigator of Mystery Date posts, but I can’t help myself. I run across interesting things and I get curious to read what people have to say about them. [Dude…one never needs to apologize for launching a thread! – Mr. Mod]

Here’s a tune you might find interesting:

Give a listen! If you know what it is, then SHHH!! All regular Mystery Date rules apply…


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