Feb 202009

Here’s a topic that got a little play last spring. I thought it was worth revisiting, in part to see if anyone’s had luck turning on a friend to one of the bands mentioned and in part to see if there are any other failed turn-on attempts that Townspeople would like to share. Who knows, someone might finally “score!”

This post initially appeared 5/13/08.

Is there a band you’ve had no success turning friends onto, a band or artist you understand has some stumbling blocks to overcome yet cannot convince a single friend of some relative merits? Don’t be shy.

I’ve had absolutely no success turning friends onto Be Bop Deluxe, a band an old work friend tried to turn me onto around 1987 with a 60-minute cassette mix that made an impression for a couple of weeks, got filed away for a good 15 years, and finally resurfaced in a box of cassettes I was clearing out, this time impressing me enough to quickly track down used vinyl of almost all their releases. I’ve written about this quest and what it meant to me elsewhere. Nearly 2 years since I wrote that heartfelt piece, I’m still waiting to collect my first Be Bop Deluxe Turn-on Points. How about you? There’s got to be some artist you love that not even your closest musical comrades will give the time of day.


  56 Responses to “Band You’ve Had NO Success Turning Friends Onto”

  1. Japan.
    nobody cares about them. my friends say, “this sucks turn it off”
    my wife says, “why do you like this? it’s like Duran Duran without the hits”

  2. Mr. Moderator

    You wife’s description is excellent! Good luck with future attempts at turning friends onto that band:)

  3. Japan had their time, and their moments. Unfortunately, for me, most of those moments are long past. It all sounds so horrible dated, and Tin Drum (which I have on vinyl about three feet from where I now sit) sounds ridiculous.

    I am, however, a fan of the band, of the Rain Tree Crow album, and have seen Sylvian live a few times.

    I’ve yet to turn on anybody to the band “Self”, one friend just said, “this is giving me a headache”. I don’t see how anybody who likes XTC, Jellyfish or Beck would not like Self, but what do I know?

  4. Weird connection: I actually discovered Be Bop Deluxe thru Japan’s David Sylvian connection with Bill Neslon, but back to the question at hand.

    I have faced much difficulty in turning friends on to Amon Düül and Amon Düül II.

  5. BigSteve

    Well, I like Japan, even if shawn did not turn me on to them. I agree it’s a tough sell, especially if the prospective turnonee gets a look at the album covers.

    My biggest failure was back when I got infatuated with Parliament/Funkadelic. NONE of my friends went along, and they thought I was crazy. Saying “But you like James Brown” had no effect.

    Mr. Mod, has your batting average been any better on that awful Boulders album you’re always going on about?

  6. Mr. Moderator

    BigSteve, did you have to bring up Boulders? I think I’m 1-50 on that one; Hrrundi may have given it some props. I’m been gearing up for trying to turn my boys onto it next. The question is, am is my fatherly skin thick enough to withstand the likely rejection? As I’ve said, they’ve fallen in love with the dozen ELO songs I decided were worth downloading. Recently my oldest son dug the original Move version of “Do Ya” as well as Wizzard’s “Ballpark Incident”, so I’m trying to decide what my next move will be: do I go back and play the boys a mix of my favorite Move songs or do I jump right into Boulders.

  7. ZZ Top. I’m hardly deeply invested in getting anybody to love them, but any time I’ve tried to put them on for more than one song, I get shouted down. I’m telling you, people from all walks of life really hate ZZ Top.

  8. Mr. Moderator

    Mwall wrote:

    I’m telling you, people from all walks of life really hate ZZ Top.

    That’s encouraging to hear, Mwall. 😛 It’s also funny to hear considering how many people like them.

  9. alexmagic

    I think you need to keep backing them into The Move first, Mod. I know I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy Boulders if I hadn’t worked my way up to it first. I’m trying to think of the best primer songs to get somebody ready for Boulder-shock, and I’m leaning towards “Look At Me Now” off the first ELO album and maybe “Feel Too Good”, “Turkish Tram Conductor Blues” and “Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited” among Move songs. You really need to lay the groundwork for Wood’s vocals with that Looking On era.

    If I was going to try to convert someone to The Move in general, though, I’d probably go with “Do Ya”, “Fire Brigade”, one of the Lynne songs like “Message From the Country” and my favorite of their songs – “Omnibus” – which has a killer soaring bridge. I’d be all over covering that if I was in a band.

  10. Mr. Moderator

    Converting even cool people like our Townspeople here to The Move is more challenging than I’d ever have expected. Alexmagic, I think we have the beginning of a new thread. I’m about to start a teleconference in work, but what would the perfect 10-song Move intro sampler consist of?

  11. alexmagic

    Neither of these are necessarily bands that I’ve repeatedly tried and failed to get people into so much as bands I’m a fan of that I’ve held off trying to sell people on because of clear obstacles.

    I always foresee a lot of trouble selling Super Furry Animals. The band’s name is a huge first hurdle to clear, then explaining that they’re Welsh, and that some of the lyrics aren’t in English, and that a lot of the lyrics that are in English don’t really make a ton of literal sense anyway and that none of that should particularly hamper your enjoyment…After all that, the songs that I think could best sell them for people have names like “Ice Hockey Hair”.

    Quasi is another one – great songs that often fall into that perfect loud/soft rock valley, and while I could probably get away skipping over their backstory or trying to explain a roxichord, I never figured out where to start on selling them to people who haven’t heard them, especially with the depressing lyrics/upbeat music thing they do.

  12. Re ZZ top:

    That’s encouraging to hear, Mwall. 😛 It’s also funny to hear considering how many people like them.

    Absolutely. I think ZZ Top’s music stands on top of a real cultural barrier. I can’t immediately think of any other band which turns so many people off while being well-loved by many others at the same time.

  13. hrrundivbakshi

    Mwall, you’re on FIRE — that’s the second deeply correct thing you’ve said in as many days. I am impressed — you need to consider joining Team Truth when you get a spare moment.


  14. trolleyvox

    I’ll give Japan some points for fabulous hair.

  15. Thanks, bakshi. I have to admit that I find it strange that while you and I disagree about music so often, we also have such a significant overlap in musical taste. There are people on this list who I agree with more often but whose taste I have less in common with. Go figure.

  16. RE ZZ Top: It was those videos from the 80’s that did them in for a lot of people. I’ve tried to talk some people into giving “Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers” or “Waiting for the Bus” a chance, but they can’t see to get past the string of cheesy “Legs”-like videos. I think I’ve had a similar problem convincing people that J. Geils kicks ass.

  17. It does not help ZZ Top that their catalog was really butchered for CD reissue.

    ZZ fans might want to wade through this:


  18. Has anyone else encountered difficulty with selling people on Mott The Hoople? It seems like all they hear or think is the Bowie connection and I can’t get them to hear Brain Capers for the life of me.

  19. Mr. Moderator

    Brain Capers spread quickly among my bandmates and friends, so no, I’ve not had a problem spreading Mott the Hoople, Petesecrutz. Interesting.

  20. Suicide.
    i really like them.
    no one else does.

  21. Mr. Moderator

    I FINALLY heard Suicide and downloaded 2 of their best-known tracks last year. They’re pretty good. I’ve long owned and liked Alan Vega’s first solo album, but for some reason the idea of Suicide never appealed to me.

  22. nice and creepy

  23. I’ve never had any luck turning *any* band onto anyone. Stopped trying a long while ago. Even a band as popular as the Bee Gees – try playing someone a frozen chamber pop moment like ‘Edison’ from 69’s ‘Odessa’ and you can visibly see them shrink in revulsion.

  24. The Tragically Hip – Canadian rockers(think of REM, Pearl Jam type of music-sort of). The ONLY way I’ve gotten anyone interested is to take them to a live show. Hands down, one of the best live shows around. On album they may be a little bland for some peeps.

  25. Mr. Moderator

    Good stuff, Townspeeps! You’ve impressed me with your sharing.

  26. Shawn Kilroy, i’ve got two Japan and some David Sylvian solo albums i picked up a couple of years ago from a 2nd hand shop for 50 cents each.

    I never actually heard the band at the time so thought I’d check them out. But if i listened to them, i have absolutely no recollection of them.

  27. ZZ Top screwed their credibility in the ’80s with “Legs” and fuzzy spinning guitars. About 5 years ago I found a sealed copy of “Tres Hombres” at a GoodWill. After jammin’ that I realized these guys are all about good music, hot cars, and unacceptable facial hair. My kinda band, but I still can’t turn my friends due to the “Legs” thing. But they’re still singing along when I throw on “La Grange”.

    (What totally sold ZZ Top to me was when my parents ran into Billy a few years ago in a shit-hole bar in Texas. No one treated him like a rock-star…he was just a dude having a couple beers. I respect the down the earth thing.)

  28. saturnismine

    in the mid 90s, the same girl who got a “lilys headache” from listening to “better can’t make your life better” HATED Big Star. Just couldn’t get her into that at all.

    my current squeeze doesn’t like stephen malkmus or pavement, with “all that jamming guitar.”

  29. hrrundivbakshi

    Jake, we REACH. Welcome to Team Zeez. That’s Townsman Saturnismine over there, and… and… where are all the other guys with great taste and judgement?

  30. saturnismine

    in the context of this discussion, where we’re describing zee zee as a band that a lot of people simply don’t like, i gotta say:

    i went to see them at the spectrum in the summer of ’86, and have never been in a more diverse crowd at any rock show, concert, club, or otherwise.

    in fact, at a particular moment in the proceedings, a guy in a white, don johnsonesque 3 piece suit offered me (a scruffy longhair at the time) and my date (whose mohawk was so tall it caused her to duck through doorways) a hit on a spliff, which we he then encouraged us pass to a very old black dude next to us.

    can’t we all just get along?

  31. Getting people of my generation to listen to Randy Newman with open ears is pretty impossible. Toy Story et al have really put him in a box, in the minds of a lot of people.

  32. Mr. Moderator

    Are you kidding me, Oats? Those Toy Story songs were the first thing I heard by him that didn’t make me want to reach for my revolver. Since then I’ve been able to discern that the guy has a heart.

  33. Won’t someone please listen to my Rev. Fred Lane albums with me? Or my Jandek record? Oh,… the pain…the pain.

    And what of my Pink Lady eponymous debut album? No one? OK, I’ll be in my room if anybody wants me,…(sniff).

  34. Hmm, again I may be speaking generationally. When I tell people in the 25-35 age group that Randy Newman was a great social satirist in his day, they can’t reconcile that with their image of the Hollywood geezer who weezes through some cartoon song at the Oscars every few years or so.

  35. BigSteve

    Actually it occurred to me reading back through this thread that my problem was not so much having had difficulty in the past turning friends on to an artists. It was joining this group and finding that artists my friends and I had always loved, like say Jackson Browne or Little Feat, were derided by many of the people here. I think it’s partly a generational thing and partly geographical bias.

  36. Mr. Moderator

    The generational issues that both Oats and BigSteve raise are interesting. I’m glad we have enough generational and regional diversity to face these issues.

  37. No man, You & your friends just have really bad taste. It’s obvious, & there can be no debate on this.

  38. BTW, Mr. Cool Mo-D(erator),

    What’s with all the hate directed at old Randy Newman? “Sail Away” & “Good Old” Boys are great albums. Satire isn’t supposed to be warm & fuzzy.

  39. BigSteve

    I’m thinking about starting a new thread about the way different generations react to BOB DYLAN.

  40. I have had no success turning people AWAY from the Tragically Hip. I have learned It’s actually impossible to convince Canadians to stay away from them. If you don’t know, it’s hard to describe to Americans just HOW BIG “The Hip” are in Canada. Well, um, just think of how small they are in the US and then reverse that.

    Canadian TH fans actually travel to small US clubs on the border to see the band in an intimate environment the way Manchester United followers go to some quaint two pub farming town to see Wayne Rooney up close.

    I bought Tragically Hip’s first EP in high school; it was pretty good, kinda rockin’ sorta Animals sorta good bar band sounding.

    Then, one day, the singer, Gord Downey decided it would be a good thing to channel Michael Stipe. Out went bar band and in came the contrived interpretive anti-dance moves and rambling “wanna be Jim Morrison style youth shaman” interviews. Embarassing.

    Gord Downey is also one of the worst offenders of the RTH identified phenomenon known as “so into it” But unlike that guy from Counting Crows, no one here seems to want to punch him in the face. Weird.

    Anyway, every hockey loving beer in Canada with any kind of pent up artistic desires goes ape-shit over “The Hip”. They get drunk, grab and acoustic guitar with a Leafs sticker on it and tell you how deep the lyrics are after croaking out that “38 years Old” song. This band has single handedly ruined campfires in Canada.

    Is that enough of a rant? Ok. That said, “Bobcaygeon” is a pretty good

  41. Oh Yeah, I posted earlier on this thread, but the post isn’t here anymore. Anyhoo, I said in it that I like Be Bop DeLuxe, really like Suicide, & really like pre-Legs era ZZ Top (Esp. Tres Hombres & Deguello). I also mentioned a similar TOP concert experience in high school, where there was a row of 5 or 6 of us, & some dude on the end near me. At one point, early on the guy pulls out a BAG of pre-rolled joints, lights one, nudges the guy next to me, hands him the joint, & makes a head movement to pass it on down the line. He did this repeatedly & quickly, until we all had our very own joint to smoke (& these weren’t skinny little stick-joints either. Looked like they’d been machine rolled). And he never spoke a word. Thank You, Stoned Man!

  42. BigSteve, I SAW THAT COMMENT ABOUT THE DYLAN THREAD! DON’T DO IT, MAN! JUST DON’T!!!(BTW, I’m 45, & I own a good 8/10 of Mr. Zimmerman’s albums (missing a couple of the last Bootleg Series installments) I LOVE Dylan, but, like lobster, I don’t want it EVERY SINGLE DAY!

  43. BigSteve

    Shouldn’t anyone named Gord Downey be a hockey player instead of a rock musician? Or, being Canadian, is he a hockey player and a rock musician.

  44. I’ve been trying to get people turned on to a band called Goldcard for the past two years, but NOBODY has bitten. I even went so far as to rescue a few copies from the 1 dollar cutout bin and send them to people, but nobody has listened to the damn thing.

    It’s a crying shame too. If you liked Pond or Grandaddy, you need to locate this disc.

    Coincidentally enough, I got my copy free from RTH favorite Chris Slusarenko when I ordered a Pollard disc from him. He threw it in for free. I put it on one day to check it out to see if I wanted to even bother selling it at my local used shop and was floored by it. I know a bunch of other people who got it as a free throw in as well, and no matter how long I babble on about it’s greatness, they cant even be bothered to listen to it. Shit man. whatever, it’s your loss, not mine.

  45. I’m also having a hard time convincing people that the Strokes side project, Little Joy, headed by drummer Fab, is totally awesome and one of the best albums from last year.

  46. Mr. Moderator

    What kpdexter says about buying dollar-bin copies of a band’s releases reminds me of a Dutch band I really liked when I discovered them on EuroMTV the year my wife and I lived in Hungary: Darryl-Ann (sp?). They reminded me of Townsman Tvox’s old band, The Wishniaks, mixed with Teenage Fanclub, a little bit of Buffalo Springfield-style country-psych, and so forth. I came back all excited about them, found their ep in a cutout bin, and bought a couple of copies for a few friends, including another of my friends from The Wishniaks, their singer. He was lukewarm on them as were the others.

    kpdex, how’s that new record Slusarenko did with Pollard? I have been forgetting the band’s name, but I’ve read good stuff about it.

  47. Boston Spaceships. John Moen from The Decemberists drums on the whole thing as well.

    The first album they did, Brown Submarine is one of the finest things Pollard has done in 10 years. They have a second album, The Planets Are Blasted, which came out digitally this week. I believe it’s on itunes. The physical release date is nest month. It’s really good as well. They have another one coming out with Peter BucK and Scott McCaughey on it coming out this summer.

    Busy band. Check them out. I could hit you with a list of choice tracks to check out by the BS if anybody’s interested.

  48. BigSteve,

    I think you’re onto something concerning the bias of geography.

    I didn’t get Little Feat or Jackson Browne until I moved from the Northeast (Philly) to the Midwest (Lawrence, KS). The difference in the pace of life is, perhaps, a major factor.

    Not sure about the generational thing, though. Do you have further thoughts on this?

  49. Yes, and since moving back to New England, I primarily listen to whaling songs.

  50. BigSteve

    Funyy, great one, I was just in Lawrence yesterday, for a lecture at KU.

    What I mean by the generational issue is that music fans younger than a certain age tend to dismiss lots of music I like as “classic rock.” Just as there are some people who think no good music happened after 1981, some think no good music happened before 1977 (or 1990? later?). I never bought that whole ‘punk year zero’ concept, and it used to really confuse record store clerks in the late 70s/early 80s when I didn’t ditch artists I had been following before, just added new artists.

    I’ll admit it took me a long time to appreciate pre-British Invasion music too.

  51. dbuskirk

    One of my all-time favorite discs is from a Canadian artist named Tamara Williamson called NIGHT ON QUEEN STREET. It’s a really beautiful, emotive, personal record that sounds like what I imagine Tori Amos would sound like if every ounce of talent and taste wasn’t drained out of her body. It always seems too bleak for most ladies and too femininely emotive for most men. It’s a truly brilliant recording though.

  52. It’s not Tori’s fault! Those aloe & coffee
    enema cleansing treatments can be way too strong for a lot of people.

  53. 2000 Man

    kpdexter, I brought up Boston Spaceships a few weeks ago. Brown Submarine is fantastic if you ask me. I just can’t get enough of it and I play it all the time. I was asking for advice on some GBV stuff because I’ve never really followed Pollard because he puts out too much stuff to keep up with, and GBV has been very hit or miss for me. I got some good advice, though. But I’ll be looking forward to new Boston Spaceships for sure. Thanks for the heads up!

  54. I once went through a traffic phase, and tried unnsuccesfully to get people into them. It took a while before i came to my senses and realized that they pretty much sucked.

    I’ve had limited sucess getting people into the Chameleons, Cafe Tacuba, and suprisingly, the Beach Boys.

  55. I once went through a traffic light unsuccessfully, & it also took me awhile to come to my senses.

  56. And I’ve, on occasion, had trouble getting into Cafe Tribeca w/people.

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