May 052011

Per Townsman misterioso‘s request in our recent appreciation of Bob Seger‘s “Night Moves” we are conducting a Mach Schaudown Battle Royale Texas Death Match between Jay Ferguson‘s “Thunder Island” and the Seeg’s “Hollywood Nights.” The videos follow. Please analyze and compare performances, hair (including facial hair) and overall Look, gear, audience participation, etc. I will ask misterioso to moderate discussion. Then you be the judge of which artist brings it best!

Jay Ferguson, “Thunder Island”

Bob Seger, “Hollywood Nights”

NEXT: Place your vote!

SHOWDOWN (choose one): Jay Ferguson's "Thunder Island" or Bob Seger's "Hollywood Nights"?

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  22 Responses to “Mach Schaudown: Jay Ferguson’s “Thunder Island” vs Bob Seger’s “Hollywood Nights””

  1. hrrundivbakshi

    God, there’s no comparison here! That Ferguson number is like proto-Journey — and what’s with the fact that Ferguson assembled a band where half the members look exactly like him? When he introduced the guitar player, I just about fell out of my chair!

  2. misterioso

    It’s true…”On lead guitar, my doppelganger! Put your hands together!”

  3. Bullet Bob is the winner here. Bob has to have energy for at least 10 to 15 big numbers. Jay only has to have enough in the tank to do this and Shakedown Cruise, right? — unless he plays crowd “favorites” from his days in Jo Jo Gunne.

    I had blocked this, but I as teenybopper, I saw Jay open for Pure Prairie League — and that clip brought back some really bad memories. Why was I even at a show like that? The shame . . .

  4. misterioso

    I had a very similar thought when watching the Ferguson clip again, when it fleetingly occurred to me that maybe this song was, in fact, the entire concert.

  5. In all fairness to the performances, I am first sharing my impressions on these performances with the sound turned OFF.

    “Thunder Island”
    Ferguson’s introduction of the doppelganger guitarist is priceless. If only the rest of his band also looked like him he’d take this Mach Schaudown in the time it took young Mike Tyson to knock out most of his opponents.

    I don’t know what he’s saying, with the sound off, but the Sham-Wow shimmy prior to sitting at the piano is impressive. A few times, however, he scratches his head in a not-cool way. Someone needs a bottle of Head & Shoulders. I would also recommend a conditioner for those split ends.

    Also for the MINUS column, maybe it’s the lighting, but is he wearing drawstring pants? They’re never that cool to begin with, but coupled with the dangling scarf or cravat let’s just say, uh, he’s giving off a little too much of a dangling vibe. The droopy moustache doesn’t dispel such notions either.

    The cowbell jam is a nice touch, but – again, without sound to provide possibly reasonable context – why does he stop at the 4:15 mark and look around, bewildered?

    He tries to re-establish his dominance over the cowbell at the 4:35 mark, with a little march at the mic, but I’m not buying it. He’s not either, and he wisely abandons that device so he can kick over his piano stool and begin running in place. STRONG MOVE! He’s wise to give himself a hand before leaping into the band’s final beat.

    “Hollywood Nights”
    A frisky Seger opens this performance by giving fans a look at his hindquarters. The camera crew does a MUCH better job of capturing every whip and sway of Bob’s hair than did the crew focused on Ferguson’s golden locks. (Ferguson’s crew possibly let down their man’s hair as much as his shampoo did.)

    Gotta love the foot on the monitor! And let’s face it: if you look like Jay Ferguson of course you want to load up the stage with another dude who looks like you, but Seger’s a man of tremendous self-awareness. He’s got totally UNSeger-like ladies in plain sight behind him. Wise move.

    Seeg’s limp-wristed finger snap at the 37-second mark is a serious NO-NO. It was probably taken as a sign for a young Tom Cruise to get fitted for tighty whiteys. Thirteen seconds later his ladies and drummer do their best to sashay him out of irrevocable danger. Bob, however, is still having a little too much fun riding his pony until he digs in with a little head pump at the 1:00 mark. Just in the nick of time! Foot’s back up on the monitor. His pony begins to gallop, now more like a 16 1/2-hands chestnut stallion over those hiiiiigggghhhh rollin’ hills.

    At the 1:14 mark he grabs his belt buckle like the horn on a saddle and allows himself a happy moment with a bandmate. This is what leading the Silver Bullet Band is all about. And his point to the segment of the audience he’s been entertaining before moving onto a new section is what being a Pro is all about.

    I love how he exits from his brief moment with the Holy Spirit (ie, Jeff Lynne) with that quick turn on his “spurs.” He begins to resume the swishy snap but grabs onto the mic cord before falling prey to the dangers of that move. Surely a coping mechanism. Wasn’t it Mitch Ryder who taught him that move in ’71? As a precaution, his guitarist and bassist are aligned in perfect Music Man amp logo formation ( Bob comes over to join in on the fun!

    Then it’s back to the monitor and more struggles with what to do with his left hand. During a 1975 stop in Cincinnatti, Reds’ catcher Johnny Bench tried to teach Seger to sing with his left hand behind his back, a technique Bench perfected while catching to keep his right (ie, throwing) hand safe from foul tips. The lesson didn’t stick. Now Seeg’s spending an inordinate amount of time using his left hand to brush back his mane, a mane he was proud to have completely obscuring his face at the song’s start.

    At 2:34, hit FREEZE on this YouTube clip! Can somebody print me a hi-res image of this shot in poster size? I want to hang it in my studio for inspiration.

    It’s all coming together by the 3:15 mark. The challenge of Ferguson’s Sham-Wow shimmy is left in the dust. Around 3:23, dig the way the bassist is embolded to saunter behind his leader. The collective Silver Bullet Band members are now set free to inspect the territory and establish their individual rock super powers on the land. The tambourine player finally has a face – and a possibly painted on beard…and Gene Simmons’ hair…and jeans tucked into his boots…. OK, points off for the emboldened tambourine player. Let’s see the outcome…

    WINNER: Seger!

  6. BigSteve

    I watched the JF clip first, and it is painfully showbiz. The extreme hair flipping is hard to take.

    He does get credit for going with a simple four-piece band. I was predisposed to vote for the Seeg, assuming he’d be more workmanlike, but he’s got chick singers and the guys in his band are wearing satin pants just like Ferguson. Seeg’s energy seems only slightly less fake.

    I call it a draw.

  7. hrrundivbakshi

    Excellent review. Faultless logic. Well done.

  8. tonyola

    Jay Ferguson is a terrific songwriter and musician – anyone who was dominant in both Spirit and Jo Jo Gunne is someone to be reckoned with. Although certainly enthusiastic enough, he falls short of Seger in live performance, and “Hollywood Nights” isn’t even Bob’s strongest song live. With something like “Katmandu” or “Rock and Roll Never Forgets”, he’d blast Ferguson off the stage. However, Jay does have a great ’70s-porn-star mustache.

  9. Good point. Forgot he was in on the early Spirit stuff.

  10. alexmagic

    Masterful work, Mod. The only thing I’ll add is that Jay Ferguson looks like all the members of Styx combined into some some gestalt being. He’s like a Styx Voltron.

  11. misterioso

    A superb close reading and reasonable analysis. Can someone tell me why there isn’t a Seger live concert film from that era? Would it not sell a gizillion copies?

  12. misterioso

    Ok, I just did my duty and voted for Ferguson in the poll–I hate to see a guy in silky pants get his ass kicked so completely as to get shut out.

  13. 2000 Man

    I had to vote for Seger. I may have voted for Ferguson, but he is so in the depths of cowbell fever that he was obviously out of his mind.

  14. Wow, I finally had a chance to LISTEN to “Thunder Island.” All this time I couldn’t remember how the sound went – and I used to like that song when it was a hit! I remember it now and I remember other songs that I felt the same way about: Elton John’s “Island Girl” and some McGuinn, Clark, and Hillman mini-hit from the same mid-’70s time that featured them on a similar tropical-themed/wind-blown hair/silk shirt album cover. Does anyone remember the M,C&H song I have in mind? I forget the title as well as the music, but it was in a similar vein.

    Beside the tropical vibe – or maybe because of it – I relate all 3 songs to a certain state of young, innocent, hopeful, summer teenage horniness. Those songs would come on the radio and 13-year-old me would imagine getting to “second base.” I wonder if other Townspeople my age experienced such associations? I wonder if each age has a shared set of songs tapping into innocent, summer teenage horniness?

  15. tonyola

    Is this it – “Don’t You Write Her Off”?

  16. BigSteve

    Jeez who in the world is fringe-wearing guitar dude? Doesn’t he know that he’s neither McGuinn nor Clark nor Hillman? I would have fired him immediately after this was filmed.

    And is he really wearing those orthodox belt tassels? What are they called, tzitzit is it? I find it hard to believe he’d be wearing them for religious reasons.

  17. YES!!! I still love that cheesy song.

  18. John Sambataro. He came from Dave Mason’s band. He would go on to be the leader of Firefall in 1982.

  19. BigSteve

    Then he’s got a lot more to answer for on Judgment Day than what he’s wearing.

  20. Ha, I’m digging the new BigSteve, the one who gets bugged by a musician’s Look!

  21. BigSteve

    It’s not just his Look. Check out his mugging at :54.

  22. tonyola

    With his swaying to and fro, fringe-y dude is “rocking out” much harder than the song calls for. Is he Steve Lukather’s dorky country cousin?

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