Mr. Moderator

Mr. Moderator

When not blogging Mr. Moderator enjoys baseball, cooking, and falconry.

Sep 082020

I know you’ve heard me say this before, but this may be the shortest Last Man Standing competition in the history of Rock Town Hall. I thought of this the other day, when Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ “Come On Eileen” came up on a playlist I made entitled 1980s Hits That Didn’t Completely Suck.*

At one point in “Come On Eileen,” the tempo purposely slows down, then picks up again and gets real fast. I thought of one other song that is arranged to purposely slow down, then pick up again – even getting faster – but no other examples came to mind. I’m NOT talking about changes in time signature or accidental/incidental changes in a song’s tempo, but the deliberately, blatantly slowed down or rushed speed at which a song moves along.

I could have thought more about this during my perfect day at the beach, but my company was too good and then on the ride home I played a much better playlist, one attempting to re-create the magic of jukebox at a community pool I used to go to when I was about 12 years old. And I should note, while typing up this post, I thought of a third song that uses this device, so don’t complain to me that there’s only one answer left. Help a brother out, won’t you?

*NOTE: When the playlist ended, at almost precisely the time the drive my wife and I made to the beach ended, my wife said, “What was that mix? I liked a couple of songs, but it sucked!”

Sep 032020

Can you imagine The Rolling Stones leaving “19th Nervous Breakdown” off any one of their numerous classic greatest hits albums? How about Chicago bypassing “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day” or Lynyrd Skynyrd putting out a greatest hits collection minus “That Smell”?

OK, these aren’t the first songs we tend to think of when we think of each band’s greatest hits, these are no longer in regular rotation on the increasingly narrowing playlists of Classic Rock and Oldies stations, but for those who grew up with these artists, they were cool songs, second-line radio staples that the artists’ record labels had the good sense to include on each band’s standard-issue greatest hits album. I was never a big fan of two of the three bands I listed, so I was happy to have these less-popular radio hits included on a hits collection to save me having to buy a full album by Chicago and Lynyrd Skynyrd just so I could have each of those songs handy.

When Tom Petty‘s first greatest hits collection came out on CD in the early ’90s (?), I played it a few times through, thinking I’d somehow skipped “Shadow of a Doubt,” a second-line hit from early in his career that I enjoyed hearing more than “Breakdown” (for the 8 billionth time in the first couple years of its release). No dice! “Shadow of a Doubt” was not considered one of Petty’s greatest hits.

Similarly, when I was a yon’ teen and brought home my copy of David Bowie‘s Changesone greatest hits collection, I was disappointed to find that one of the Bowie songs that most psyched me up when it came on the radio wasn’t included: “Panic in Detroit.” Why? That was in semi-regular rotation in its time, but it was cast aside by the greatest hits compiler. I didn’t want to buy whatever full Bowie album that song appears on, because I typically found his full albums to be a waste of time. I’m hoping that our resident expert on greatest hits collections, Townsman Andyr, can help us gain insight into the selection process.

Meanwhile, what relative radio staple have you been disappointed to learn was left off a greatest hits album? (Eventually inclusion on a boxed set, by the way, does not count.) Did you eventually break down and buy the original album on which that song appears? I’ve not yet bought a copy of Aladdin Sane.

Aug 272020

Here’s a topic I have been thinking about for years, but that may never have made it to the Main Stage. I guess I’ve been thinking about this since Rock Town Hall first fizzled away.

KISS‘ “Hard Luck Woman” is such an obvious pastiche of mid-’70s Rod Stewart that it’s a wonder that Rod never covered it. (Or has he?) Some of you may recall how much I personally despise KISS, but I have to give it to them: they were rock solid as Rod Stewart imitators.

What’s the first thing anyone of my generation thought when first hearing the Stealer’s Wheel song “Stuck in the Middle With You”?

New Dylan tune? Cool!

Bob’s a proud man, but he’s got a devilish sense of humor. How has he gone all these years without covering that song? (Or has he?)

And here’s the tune that has most had me thinking about this topic for the last few years: David Bowie‘s “Diamond Dogs.” Maybe it was 5 years ago when it came on and I thought to myself, That is the greatest song the Exile-era Stones never recorded!

Can you hear it as a swaggering Stones song, with Jagger sashaying and laying into the word “brooch” the way Bowie so expertly does*; Mick Taylor and Keef doing their thing; E Pluribus Gergely‘s favorite saxophonist, Bobby Keys, honking away? Ever since that day the thought occurred to me, that’s all I can hear. Well, that and the way Bowie sings brooch. And the cool This ain’t rock ‘n roll; this is genocide intro.

So here’s my assignment:

Starting with the 3 songs I’ve noted (and dispute those nominations if you must), what would make the greatest collection of covers of pastiche songs by the original artists being imitated? Imagine, a revitalized, coke-and-brandy fueled Rod the Mod singing “Hard Luck Woman.” Bob Dylan and his most crack modern-day band rambling through “Stuck in the Middle With You.” The Rolling Fucking Stones coming back for just one more album and world tour, featuring their version of “Diamond Dogs.” Hell, the Stones promise 2000 Man a seat on the tour bus!

*Brooch is probably my favorite word in the English language, or at least a close second to penultimate, on the basis of the way Bowie pronounces it in “Diamond Dogs.” Somehow, Bowie made it sound dirty!



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Aug 262020

There was a time when I imagined a harpsichord could make anything sound better, even Billy Joel‘s “Piano Man.” I don’t remember specifically how old I was, but I was probably about 15, the year my head exploded with dreams of becoming a professional musician.

I’d long loved the harpsichord – or some electronically manipulated version of a piano to sound like one – on The Beatles‘ “In My Life.” They used the instrument, or some approximation of it, elsewhere, like “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” and “Fixing a Hole.”

The Rolling Stones used harpsichord to great effect on “Play With Fire.” Oh, the thought of those savages unleashed on an instrument befitting a man in tights and a powdered wig!

“Walk Away Renee” and “Sunshine Superman” featured the harpsichord. And who could forget the chill that ran up their spine the first time they heard it bang out the chords in The Yardbirds‘ “For Your Love”? Not I, not the day I sat down at the harpsichord in my high school music room and painstakingly figured out how to play that song’s four magical chords. Or more likely it was my close, personal friend Townsman Andyr who figured out the chords and showed me how to unlock the magic. His family had a piano, and he already knew how to play the intro to “Evil Woman.”

Aug 202020

Busy day ahead, but a couple of newsy notes have come across my desk that I thought might be of interest for this week’s All-Star Jam. Let’s kick things off with this tribute to Kamala Harris, who according to some right-wing nut has a “Jezebel spirit.”

Now, for a story in the New York Times that interested me… I hope you can get past the paywall. If not, this piece starts with an artist who saw his albums being resold on Discogs for as high as $77, so he priced his new album at $77, thinking he might as well get that money. And he has! The article also references the single copy of the Wu-Tang Clan album that was released and auctioned off years ago, an event I was highly jealous of, because I’d been thinking for years, as a highly unsuccessful artist, Why bother pressing 1000 independently released albums when we could press one and possibly sell it at a high enough price to equal what we make when we press 1000 and end up with 600 unsold copies in my garage? Plenty of food for thought in this article.

The other newsy note I want to pass along is an oldie but goodie for most of us, but how great is Jimi Hendrix‘s version of “All Along the Watchtower”?

Jam on it!

Aug 172020

Too many things tend to bother me, and the older and (hopefully) more mature I get, I have trouble letting all the little things that bother me rush to the front of the queue.

Get back, new formulation of a favorite childhood candy, I’ve got a pain-in-the-ass interruption of my hard-earned career aspirations to attend to!

Stand down, idiocy of a band ditching its unintentionally racist band name for a sexist one, I’ve got two sons to help through their slow journey into manhood!

It’s for reasons like these that I have trouble cranking out the daily content I once did here in the Halls of Rock. Trust me, I’m thankful for seeing you all in this context during our Pandemic Relief reboot. I hope I’m doing my part.

I was thinking about this over the weekend: What stupid thing continues to gnaw at me enough that I should move it in front of my concerns over the health of our planet or the idealism on which my country was founded? Then it came to me:


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