Aug 202021

This one’s easy, but it may reveal more about you than you think. Just finish the sentence:

“There’s a special part of rock and roll hell reserved for…”

It could be anything or anybody: pointy guitars from the 1980s, David Clayton-Thomas, Paul McCartney’s late-90s dye job, “Mighty Like a Rose,” anything. And don’t feel restricted to providing just one answer; the more the merrier.

I look forward to your responses.


Jul 292021

Last night, I dreamed that E. Pluribus Gergeley and I went to a record show together. For some reason, he drove, so I was relying on his wheels to get home after the event. At one point, EPG asked me whether I liked the song “I’m Looking Through You” by the Beatles. I replied, more to get his goat than anything else, that I considered it “a seven out of 10.” Upon hearing this, EPG flew into a rage and split, stranding me at the dream record show. Things got weirder when he sent a flunky over with a smoked ham, asking if I’d trade my copy of “Rubber Soul” for it. I refused, which angered him all the more, and the next thing I heard, EPG was slagging my name all over the show, telling all and sundry that I couldn’t be trusted because I didn’t even think the Beatles were as good as smoked ham. Then I woke up.

Anyway, my question is this: have you ever had a falling out with a friend, significant other, or person you otherwise respected because you learned they had an utterly indefensible position on a band, album, song, genre, what have you?

I look forward to your responses.. And EPG, I hope we’re still tight. I actually love that song — and I probably would trade you a decent copy of Rubber Soul for a high-quality smoked ham. Though country ham would be preferable.


Jul 282021

I’m not clever enough to properly embed the link you see above, so it just plays auto-magically. So click on the link, and spend a few moments remembering “the Dust.”

Also: it seems only fitting on this sad day that — yes, seriously — footage has finally emerged of the Top playing on their Worldwide Texas Tour. Enjoy.

Memory eternal.




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Jul 202021

I do like a good rock “woo.” You know what I mean by a “woo,” I hope. I mean those moments when somebody in the band just has to let out a cathartic, falsetto “woo” at a critical, “woo”-worthy juncture in a song.

Do you have any favorite rock “woo”s? I’ve posted an audio collage of a few of mine above. For extra credit, identify them. I look forward to your responses.


Jun 282021

It takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong — but it takes a much, much smaller man to take nearly 40 years to ‘fess up to his mistakes. And that’s just the kind of man I am. So here I am, stripped naked of shame and regret, chained to the Orockle doors, megaphone in hand, ready to scream into the howling wind: I WAS WRONG ABOUT ALEX CHILTON’S 1980s OUTPUT!

Like everybody else who came into rock maturity in the 1980s (other than E. Pluribus Gergeley), I fell deeply in love with Big Star upon hearing them as a pimply-faced college puke. Big Star had everything I needed as a budding music nerd, in overwhelming abundance: Impeccable song craft! Soaring harmonies! Clanging guitars! Doomed-to-fail braininess! I-know-more-than-you-do exclusivity!

I rhapsodized over the pop perfection of their first two albums, and made excuses for the shambolic weirdness of the third. I agonized over the band’s collapse, and cursed the world for not appreciating their greatness, even as I enjoyed being one of the select few who actually owned a copy of “Radio City” on the original Ardent label. I decided Alex Chilton was a genius.

Of course, I wasn’t the only music nerd in the 1980s to discover Chilton and Big Star, so a few indie labels decided it would make good business sense to green-light various Chilton “comeback” projects, which were targeted fairly specifically at people like me. And here is where I started to go very, very wrong — because, like almost everybody else at the time, I thought these albums and EPs sucked.

The critical take on Chilton’s first “comeback” album, “High Priest,” was basically:  “huh?” Everybody, including (probably especially) me, just could not understand why the man we perceived as the creative genius behind the dense, powerful, proto-power pop of Big Star would debase himself with such a lazy throwaway album of obscure ’60s AM/soul radio material. The arrangements were sloppy — not insane, or non-existent, as on “Like Flies On Sherbert,” but stripped down, basic, elemental… yeah, “lazy.” Basically, if Alex had wanted to piss off all the people looking for a return to Big Star’s style and substance, he couldn’t have done a better job.

But — even as some critics twisted themselves into pretzels trying to convince us this was all part of a Chilton master plan to fool the world by deliberately making music that was beneath him — the truth is that this album, and most of the other stuff he released as an indie elder statesman, was great. Not Great with a capital “G,” but impeccably curated, played with honesty, clarity, and nuance, and generally pleasing to the earbulbs. I’ve grown into a place where I absolutely adore these records, and I listen to them far more often than the Big Star material (which I still marvel at, but find to be very much “of an era.”)

I should point out that I also love the original artists’ versions of the covers within this catalog. But Chilton’s soulful interpretations are unique, and meaningful. Like a bop jazz trio doing a set of Broadway show tunes, they’re measurably different from the originals, but respectful of the source material.

All this to say: go check out “High Priest,” or “Set,” and listen with an open mind. I think you’ll like what you hear.



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