Jun 132016

As I mentioned in the When Band Members Go Solo thread, I saw Ian Hunter Saturday night. It was a fantastic show. No surprise there as every one of the half dozen or so times I’ve seen him was great but this may have been the best. He gets better with age. And he rocks hard! I’m not quite sure how he can do it; he turned 77 last week.

As I watched his inevitable encore – “All The Young Dudes” – I was reminded of a thread opportunity that I’ve thought of periodically over the years but never acted on. Better late than never.

Hunter is a great, great songwriter, responsible for a slew of fantastic songs in his solo career and all the Mott songs you know and love. All that is, except for the most famous Mott song, the David Bowie-penned “All The Young Dudes.”

I’ve always thought it “unfair” or “sad” or some other not-quite-exactly-right adjective that a band/artist who primarily write their own songs should have their most well-known song be the product of another songwriter.

And at the times in the past when I have thought about this thread, I thought of 2 other acts which fit this category. Of course, as I write this I can’t remember one of them.

Can you identify the one I do remember? Or the one I can’t? Or another?-

Jun 132016



Hopefully this post will only be seen by contributing writers to Rock Town Hall. If the public at large, relatively speaking, sees this as well, so be it. As I’ve mentioned, in announcing the gradual wind down of Rock Town Hall, as we’ve come to know it and love it, The Back Office and I are seeking a way to “preserve” the work we’ve done for the benefit of future generations. As this place winds down and I try to get my head around where our powers may go next, I’ve also been thinking of ways to solidify the “characters” we’ve established through the years. I’d like to set up time with a number of you to talk over the phone or over e-mail to capture some of your thoughts – anything from final important rock stances you want to take…once and for all…to highlights you want to recap or dirt you want to dish on a fellow Townsperson. Let me know if you’d be up for a 15-minute call, and we can work it out through the summer. Thanks.

Jun 122016

I don’t have a graceful way of stating this: at some point, in the coming months, Rock Town Hall is likely to cease its active life and be preserved as an archive site of often dazzling rock insights and articulation. I can’t imagine what more we can do with this current vehicle. I don’t want to repeat myself. As much as I may joke about it, I actually feel too old and too wise to keep blasting away at the same ducks that refuse to leave the barrel. We’ve been in our public blog form since January 2007; we existed as a private Yahoo Group listserv for a few years prior to that. In the shortened lifespan of the digital age, does that mean we’ve managed to keep this place in business on the back of an 8-track format?

Jun 112016

My oldest son, who recently got his first turntable for his 19th birthday and who has proceeded on a heart-warming (mine), wallet-emptying (his) vinyl binge, sent me the following text while I was at the gym this morning:

When I go to record stores I see lots of solo albums by different artists but I never want to buy them cause I’m not familiar with the music and I know lots of artists suck when they go solo. For example, Ive seen lots of Fogerty solo work and McCartney solo work but I don’t know if it’s good. Can you think of the best artists who went solo so I know what to buy and what to avoid?

Good question, right? One of those questions I sometimes get from people young enough to be my kid that makes me think we need to follow Rock Town Hall with a next-generation spinoff. I’m not sure, myself, whether Pete Townshend’s Empty Glass is actually good. I can advise him on solo John Fogerty (“Eh…”). His question reminds me that I need to warn him to tread lightly with any other solo (or in any way post-Move) album by Roy Wood beside Boulders, which he borrowed from me last week and liked a lot. I’ve had mixed feelings about Pete Townshend, the Occasional Solo Artist, for years. Should I finally buy a used copy of Empty Glass? I’ll have a talk with him about McCartney and let him know that there’s really no difference between McCartney solo and Wings and that there’s nothing McCartney has done post-Beatles that is worth anything but a greatest hits collection beside the nearly amazing Band on the Run. (I know some of you stand behind Ram, as well. I’ll be fair and represent your thoughts on that album.)

What solo albums by musicians primarily associated with being members of a long-running band would you recommend my boy check out? Don’t suggest Van Morrison, because he spent his first couple of years in Them. Likewise, as I remember perceiving things at his age, my son still thinks of and likes Lou Reed as a solo artist before thinking of him as the guy from the Velvet Underground.

Jun 082016

I’ve heard people say they think there’s something wrong with this video. I mean, it sounds like a note for note copy of a Bon Jovi song to me. It’s utterly, completely perfect, and I can’t tell the difference between this and an original Bon Jovi song. Am I missing something?

Jun 052016

Axis came out in early 1968, and I probably got it within a few months of that. I’m not sure how familiar I was with Hendrix at the time but I remember the album being pretty cheap at Korvette’s and so picked it up. It was on Track Records and so was an import of some kind; why it was at Korvette’s or cheap I don’t know. I loved it immediately and still do. No other Hendrix album has replaced it for me. There’s that period bit “EXP” opener, the jazzy “Up From The Skies,” the heavy psych of “Spanish Castle Magic,” the funky pop of “Wait Until Tomorrow” (with the great opening line “Well, I’m standing here freezing, inside your golden garden”), the classic rock of “Little Wing,” the ’60s philosophy of “If 6 Was 9,” and on and on. I even love Noel Redding’s contribution, “She’s So Fine.”

It’s an album that’s a perfect hyphenate: pop-rock-jazz-funk-blues. Deep & frothy. Heavy & light.

And so it’s always been my favorite Hendrix album but I can’t help thinking: “How much of that is because it was the first?” I don’t feel like I hear this opinion too often. Are You Experienced? or more often Electric Ladyland are what you hear about, but I’ll take Axis over either of those.

What do you think? Am I right or wrong? And do you have analogous “first” albums by other artists where you feel the blush of first love may be coloring your rock-crit bona fides?

Jun 012016


On Facebook, that scourge of Rock Town Hall, I got sucked into pissing off modern-day Monkees devotees over their celebration of some article declaring The Monkees as the “Motown of Rock.” This is the kind of shooting-fish-in-a-barrel nonsense that makes me think it’s time to build a new church, a new congregation from the wonderful materials we’ve developed here. As I just got done telling some legendary digital Power Pop Nerd, if he wants to compare the Monkees to The Supremes or The Temptations be my guest. I’ll keep my mouth shut and not say something pissy like, “Well, let’s not go crazy, they’re more like Martha & The Vandellas…” For all our hard work, the core belief that Greatness is somewhat better than Goodness has failed to take root. There must be a way to get these people back on the path toward Greatness, despite how far they’ve strayed from said path.

Where the Motown comparison falls apart, and where the myths of The Monkees being “fake” crumble, is in the nagging fact that less than two years after forming, The Monkees deliberately stepped out of the star-making machinery that created them and assumed creative control of their music and image. In a particularly rock ’n’ roll move, Mike Nesmith sealed the contentious break with the band’s puppet-master Don Kirshner (ironically, a Hall Of Fame inductee in part for creating The Monkees and The Archies), by putting his fist through a wall while shouting to Kirshner, “That could have been your face!” From there, the band started writing, playing and touring in earnest (hand-picking then relatively unknown Jimi Hendrix as their opening act, no less). Once they started calling their own shots, they made their most critically acclaimed album, Headquarters, which Mojo called “a masterpiece of ’60s pop.”

It occurred to me that the annual beef that The Monkees are getting shafted by not being inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame may be tops among Rock’s First-World Issues. Is there no better sign of Rock Entitlement than the energy one expends on that topic? What other First-World Issues in Rock come to mind?

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