Nov 252008

We once examined artists Artists People Like More Because They Were Ka-Raaay-Zeeeee. Today, let’s discuss artists who may have benefitted from a ka-raaay-zeeeee band member and at least one artist who tried to raise his band’s profile with this angle but could not capitalize on the fact.

To kick things off, I believe The Zombies would have been loved and studied by more than Ken doll-smooth rock nerds if they’d had a ka-raaay-zeeeee band member.

Among failed attempts at playing the ka-raaay-zeeee angle, I’d start with Andy Partridge and XTC. He’s worked hard over the years at pumping up his legacy with “English Eccentric” details that go beyond his irrational fear of performing live, such as stories of his comic books, toy trains, war games, teenage antidepressant therapy, and penchant for masturbation. I’d guess these efforts have been for naught. They keep some of the Chalkhills crowd stokes, but rock lovers either dig XTC or they don’t. Have you ever met some asshole who says, “I’ve been getting into XTC, maaaannnnn. That Partridge guy is whack!”


  23 Responses to “Last Man Standing: Artists People Might Have Liked More If They Were Ka-Raaay-Zeeeee (and at least one band for which this feature did not work)!”

  1. I’ll humbly submit The Association. Like The Zombies, probably too underrated for their own good.


  2. hrrundivbakshi

    Not to get pince-nez on you, but the previous thread was about artists who people *do* like more because they’re ka-rayyyy-zeeeee. I think what you’re getting at here is different: bands who people *might* like more, if only they had the “ka-rayyy-zeee” angle to work with. Do I have that right? If so, wouldn’t the angle work for anybody? I mean, wouldn’t rock nerds like ELO more if it was revealed that Jeff Lynne wrote all of his songs nude, in the rain, while twirling a drum majorette baton?

  3. Mr. Moderator

    Thanks for the Pince Nez, HVB. Yes, that’s what I meant. I cut and pasted the wrong phrase in my lead sentence. NOW this thread will explode!

    Yes, ELO could have benefitted from the Jeff Lynne you describe.

    As for The Association, my question would be WHICH band member should be ka-raay-zeeeee? Can anyone name a member of that band?

  4. diskojoe

    It’s ironic that ELO was co-founded by someone who could be considered ka-raay-zeee, Roy Wood. Maybe if he stayed longer than the 1st album.

    How about the Left Banke? From reading about him in one of Ritchie Unterberger’s books, Michael Brown seemed to have a little bit of ka-raay-zee to him.

  5. Terry Kirkman is the main guy behind The Association. One of those Yesters was involved at some point. Kirkman wasn’t too insane, hence my nomination.


  6. Mr. Moderator

    Doesn’t the Left Banke get a little bit of mileage out of Brown’s ka-raaay-zeeeee-ness already, or is there a case being made for it among the Ken-doll set?

    On a related note, there’s been a big push among the Ken-doll set to play up the ka-raaay-zeeeee-ness of Emmitt Rhodes (sp?). For years I was content with that first solo album of his, which we all know is better than his hero McCartney’s solo album. There was no need to dig into his psyche. In recent years, though, every article I’ve read about him makes him out to be a bit of a freak. To his credit, I don’t think he’s behind it, but as with the case for Andy Partridge, I don’t know that it’s resonating with many new fans.

  7. Mr. Moderator

    You’re a good man, TB. I own a couple of Association albums and like their music, yet I don’t think I’ve ever taken note of any band member’s name!

  8. ELO is just about as perfect example as I can think of. Jeff Lynne just strikes me as a nice, down-to-earth dude who happens to write some incredible and catchy pop tunes. Plus, he knows how to produce them.

    Does HVB win this one with a single blow? I, for one, am stunned.


  9. Mr. Moderator

    TB, unlike the Battle Royale, in which one Townsperson can grab the belt at any time, the Last Man Standing competitions at RTH are all about going forward until we can go no further. Two days from now we might still be throwing artists into the ring, although you should note: this is among the least objective challenges out there. I will be sure to weed out contenders who I feel do not belong. For instance, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers lost a member to an OD and it didn’t make a bit of difference to their legacy. Petty has never had the least bit of interest in playing the ka-raaay-zeeeee artist game. Lynne, on the other hand, does fancy himself a bit of an eccentric. He’s in the game.

  10. BigSteve

    hvb wrote:

    I mean, wouldn’t rock nerds like ELO more if it was revealed that Jeff Lynne wrote all of his songs nude, in the rain, while twirling a drum majorette baton?

    Actually that might make me like ELO less, which I wouldn’t have thought possible.

  11. Mr. Moderator

    Here’s one: Over the weekend I was listening to a great piece on Fats Domino on that NPR show, American Roots. Fats was pretty awesome, and despite the fact that he’s acknowledged as a founding father of rock, how much more legendary would he have been if he’d appeared onstage in lipstick and a bouffant hairdo or drowned in a vat of gumbo? The whole “Fats” thing went out of fashion in rock too fast for him to have ridden that novel characteristic for all it was worth.

  12. alexmagic

    If one of the Gallagher brothers had killed the other during one of their many fights, Oasis would have all kinds of cred these days.

    I’m thinking of that live TV performance they did where Liam claimed to have lost his voice, so Noel had to sing, but then Liam sat up in the balcony heckling him.

    If Noel had gone up to the balcony and thrown Liam off to his death, then went back down and tried to finish the show before being carted off stage by the police, and was still in jail today for murdering his brother on live TV, I’d probably think a lot more highly of Oasis’ music, and I don’t think I’m alone on that.

  13. BigSteve

    Guns & Roses. Oh wait, never mind.

  14. If Chris Bell had been manic depressive rather than simply depressive, he might have gone on a rampage against the record company that had screwed up Big Star’s distribution, forced the company at gunpoint to market the music, stayed in the band, and led Big Star to the kind of fame Cheap Trick would have a few years later as the most important power pop band of their era.

  15. maybe teenage fanclub would’ve maintained the inertia they got from Bandwagonesque if they decided to compliment their beards with other ‘groovy’ antics.

    The Brian Jonestown Massacre likes to push their insanity, but it hasn’t really gotten them anywhere.

  16. Mr. Moderator

    hissing fauna, BJM is a FANTASTIC example of a failed attempt at capitalizing on this dynamic. However, even with psychological issues, I think Teenage Fanclub would go down as pleasant and timid with the record-buying public as the works of the aforementioned Chris Bell.

  17. I don’t know mwall; I don’t think craziness can reliably provide the key to arena superstardom. Besides, there are plenty of crazy-man myths about Alex Chilton (i.e., pressing a gun to Lux Interior’s forehead in the studio, telling him to “sing it right”) to keep the fanboys stoked.

  18. Mr. Moderator

    The craziness works for Chilton because he’s aggressive and/or self-destructive. Using one’s depression to fuel aspirations of becoming the next Elton John is not as appealing. Had Chris Bell succeeded before dying young, he might have been like Andy Gibb. Musically, who really cares that Andy Gibb was ka-raaa-zeeeee?

  19. Mr. Moderator

    Oh, and to be clear: it’s not necessarily arena-rock success, as Mwall wished for in Big Star’s case, that I’m looking for. Success is one criterion, but critical success is equally valid. Chilton’s hung around in the rock nerd consciousness for way longer than his output since 1978 would dictate.

  20. I’m not sure this really works at all. We all want our artists to be interesting and that may mean pushing boundaries on things we’ve all dabbled in or been fascinated by: drinking/drugs to excess, profligate spending, a different perspective on reality, excessive laziness, super ego, etc. Doesn’t work when you get down to real crazy. Who likes Chuck Berry more since you learned he photographs women evacuating? Gary Glitter anyone? Did he move up on anyone’s list? Not boring is probably good enough if the music is strong.

  21. I’m with Chickenfrank in no longer understanding what this post is about. The initial phrase “more people would have liked” implies that the issue is popularity, but now we’re inching more in the direction of “would have been more drooled over by hipster nerds” which is a whole different kettle of fish.

    For instance, someone is going to have to explain to me why the massively bland output of ELO would have benefited more from craziness than the massively introverted output of Chris Bell, who if he had stabbed himself in the chest after Big Star earned a No. 1 single in 1976, would be easily as fawned over as Elliot Smith. Come to think of it, he already is, so I guess the reason he’s not a good example is because he is already fawned over because he was crazy.

  22. alexmagic

    I thought of this while walking home from work last night, and now realize that the dates don’t quite synch up, but the theory still holds:

    If one of the Osmonds had briefly fallen in with the Manson Family, I bet their Crazy Horses-era material would have some kind of rock hipster cred today. There would be somebody out there saying “No, no man, these guys really could have rocked out if they’d followed up on this!”

    I’m not saying they would have had to kill anybody, but maybe one of the older, interchangeable ones like Wayne or Jay could have grown a beard, spent a few months partying with the Family and talking about how great his new friend The Wizard was in a few interviews, and the rest of the Osmonds would get mad at him and always have to cut the interviews short. If The Osmonds had put out a version of “Never Learn Not To Love” instead of the Beach Boys, that would be some kind of rock nerd Holy Grail these days.

  23. Mark Lindsay, what a nutcase!

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