Our old friend mikeydread got in touch to pass along this piece on a disappointing album. I think this is a nicely balanced expression of disappointment, not the kind of thing we’d hear from smack-talking E. Pluribus Gergely.
You’ve all had enough time to reflect on Nashville Skyline, and I really don’t think Bob Dylan is a Townsperson, so you won’t need to worry about missing out on advance copies of his next Bootleg Series: On a scale of Bad to Meh to Great, how do you rate this album?
Ever have one of those moments when you reflect and say to yourself, “It’s time I try being a better person; it’s time I give [insert thing you’ve never liked] a chance”? I had one of those moment last week, when I decided to give ZZ Top a chance.
Social distancing has opened my mind and heart to all sorts of things I’d normally not watch on Netflix, like Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop Lab series. How much more annoying could a ZZ Top documentary, That Little Ol’ Band From Texas, be than a 6-part series featuring Paltrow and her fellow vocal fry lackeys self-obsessing over touchy-feely subjects that first came into being to make us better people spiritually, not worse?
To my surprise and delight, to my edification as an evolved, better person, the ZZ Top documentary was not bad at all. I realized at least 5 things from watching this program:
The members of ZZ Top are way more articulate and engaging than I was expecting.
Billy Gibbons is and always has been much thinner than I realized. (What is with the insertion of the middle initial F, though?)
The band spend most of its career looking like regular, cowboy dudes, which was a much less annoying Look than their bearded, sharp-dressed man shtick of the MTV age. I barely paid any attention to ZZ Top in their first 10 years, but had I, I would have been much less put off by simply looking at them. Hearing those old songs again, I still don’t get much pleasure out of them, but their instrument tones are sweet. Their surge in popularity thanks to the MTV hits explains so much of what I don’t like about that band. Had it not been for that evolution in their career, I could have happily ignored them through the glory years of RTH and saved Townsman hrrundivbakshi much heartache.
I still don’t care for Prince.
Beside some footage of vultures sitting back by drummer Frank Beard, which we’d uncovered years ago in our Bullshit On series regarding the alleged tour featuring livestock, there’s nothing more to prove that bison and bucking broncos and whatnot actually shared the stage with the band. Come on, an entire segment of the doc highlights this part of the band’s mythology, including an interview with a rodeo clown who was supposedly hired to wrangle the animals, and we don’t even get a still image of a bison sharing a mic with Dusty Hill? I smell a page taken from the playbook of that Scorsese doc on Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Review.
We hope you are healthy and abiding by your community’s social distancing practices. I’m keeping my hands as clean as Chris Martin’s.
COVID-19 has thrown us for a loop. I don’t know about you, but all this time shut in the house has made me long for an outlet that not even social media can satisfy. I need to mix it up with my most-intimate music-loving friends. I need to call bullshit with you on some things and, more importantly, have bullshit called on myself.
I’m not alone. A few of you have reached out to me and my close, personal friend sammymaudlin to ask if we could re-open the Halls of Rock, at least until we make it through this global pandemic. We’re brushing up things just enough to give us the rock-nerd shelter we may need to have the intimacy to kindly attack sacred cows, analyze the influence of facial hair on an artist’s musical development, and get a report on the Bill Wyman documentary on Netflix. This emergency trial re-opening of Rock Town Hall can even provide a safe haven for a discussion of Bob Dylan‘s new 17-minute song about the assassination of JFK, which I’ve been afraid to listen to without you.
Who knows where this goes? I hope it helps us through the coming months, if that’s what it’s going to take to get back out to clubs and backslap with friends.
Don’t hesitate to ask if you need a refresher on how to navigate things, how to post new content, simply how to log in. Of course, there is an auto-reset, if you’ve forgotten your password. Who could blame you?
Few personalities — particularly as one as protean and occasionally as brilliant as Reed’s — can be summed up in two syllables. But if you were to do a word cloud of memories of Reed in the various volumes that have been published on his life, the word asshole would turn up in surprisingly large type.
Maybe you’ve heard of this Lou Reed character? This article is worth a read, even if you think you’ve heard it all before. (And you probably have.)
One aspect of many of even Reed’s classic-era albums that doesn’t get talked about enough is the sonic inconsistency. It’s a subtle thing, but most decent rock albums have a sonic palette that forms the core of the work. It’s not that every song must be orchestrated identically, but a good album will generally sound like it was recorded a certain way in a certain universe. Reed’s own lack of sophistication and the B-level producers he used over most of his career combined to make many of his records sound internally random, and jarring. And even fans can point to few nuanced compositions to make the search worthwhile. Along the way he sold “Walk on the Wild Side” for a TV commercial for the Honda’s short-lived line of scooters; Reed appeared at the end of it, to say, “Hey — don’t settle for walkin’!”
Hopefully this post will only be seen by contributing writers to Rock Town Hall. If the public at large, relatively speaking, sees this as well, so be it. As I’ve mentioned, in announcing the gradual wind down of Rock Town Hall, as we’ve come to know it and love it, The Back Office and I are seeking a way to “preserve” the work we’ve done for the benefit of future generations. As this place winds down and I try to get my head around where our powers may go next, I’ve also been thinking of ways to solidify the “characters” we’ve established through the years. I’d like to set up time with a number of you to talk over the phone or over e-mail to capture some of your thoughts – anything from final important rock stances you want to take…once and for all…to highlights you want to recap or dirt you want to dish on a fellow Townsperson. Let me know if you’d be up for a 15-minute call, and we can work it out through the summer. Thanks.