Jun 022021
 

This is an excellent opportunity for me to restate that I believe the Charlie Watts Hoax is a Hoax! Put aside Jimmy Miller’s drumming on a few tracksssss on Let it Bleed and Exile. It plainly doesn’t matter if he was out to lunch during the Undercover-Dirty Work era. During the truly crucial years of the Rolling Stones (1964-1981, let’s say), Charlie Watts played drums on probably 98% of their recordings. PROVE ME WRONG!

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Jun 012021
 

There I was, all ready to uncork a new RTH Glossary entry on you — “pullin’ a Daltrey,” meaning over-enthusiastically singing somebody else’s words, in a way that suggests you’re not entirely sure you know what they mean. I even knew what tune best exemplified this behavior. But when I sauntered in through the doors of YouTube, looking for a performance of “You Better You Bet” that would show you what I was talking about, I was crestfallen. In my mind’s eye, I could see our titanium-throated mega stud punching the air with his fist and twirling his mic, bursting out of a rock power squat while owning lines like “especially, when you say YES!” and “… I look pretty crappy SOMETIME!” But then… this. What a let-down. How can I explain what pullin’ a Daltrey means if Daltrey won’t even pull one for me?

Can any of you find a video clip of The Who, or any other band or artist, that better showcases this glossary term?

I look forward to your responses.

HVB

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May 272021
 

Driving home after a wonderful anniversary dinner tonight, U2’s “New Year’s Day” came on the radio.

“There are enough U2 songs I like.” I said to my disinterested wife, “I wish this one would go away.”

She is expert in tuning me out when I go on such tangents, so I continued my conversation in my head.

“Why do you particularly dislike this song?” I asked.

“It’s nothing but the overly emotive crap that I can’t stand about Bono,” I said. Then I added, “And he ruins it right out of the gates with an unnecessary banshee wail.”

Bono has had more space to emote than any person in earth. He does a pleading banshee wail on every U2 song. Did he really need to start this one with a pleading banshee wail?

Then “we” (is, I and I) got to talking. Beside The Stooges’ “Loose,” does any song warrant opening with a banshee wail?

I don’t think Daltry, Lennon, Jim Morrison, or PJ Harvey, some of rock’s best wailers, opened a song with a banshee wail. I could be wrong.

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May 252021
 

Greetings, fellow Rock Town Hall loiterers! I come before you today with a simple thought experiment — something to get you scratching your chin for a moment or two, to distract you from the cares of the day. So wedge your monocle firmly into your eye socket, pour yourself a dry martini, lean back, and let’s begin.

Here’s what I have in mind: there are songs that common wisdom might lead one to believe are essentially flawless. When was the last time, for example, that you heard anybody trash-talking “She Said, She Said” or “Superstition” or “All Down the Line”? I submit, however, that perfection does not exist, and that whatever track we submit to the RTH hive mind, at least one of us can find something wrong with it. And that’s what I want us to do. Think of this exercise as our beloved “If You Can’t Say Anything Nice About…” series, but backwards.

We’re going to do this like a game of tag. I’ll start by saying:

Well, I may be nitpicking, but I just can’t stand the way Hendrix sings “two riders were approaching… and the wind begin to howl” in his version of “All Along the Watchtower.” Would it be too much to ask Jimi to sing “begins,” or “began”? It drives me crazy! Now, “Waterloo Sunset” — now that’s a perfect song!

… and whoever jumps in next shares at least one reason why “Waterloo Sunset” is not at all perfect, starting with the words “Well, I may be nitpicking, but…”, and finishing off their comment with a nod toward the song they believe is without flaw.

Make sense? Then why not join in the fun by nitpicking “Waterloo Sunset”?  Come on — show us just how petty you can be!

I look forward to your responses.

HVB

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May 132021
 

It’s been a while – the standard text is below. Not sure Mr. Mod wants to continue to be the contact for the “mockcarr option.” I’m trying SoundCloud as a host for this music, and they may pull it down since it is likely copyrighted. But in the meantime – what are your impressions of this track? And do you have any idea which well-known musician plays a prominent role in this production?

——————————————————————————————————————–

Let’s review the ground rules here. The Mystery Date song is not necessarily something I believe to be good. So feel free to rip it or praise it. Rather the song is something of interest due to the artist, influences, time period… Your job is to decipher as much as you can about the artist without research. Who do you think it is? Or, Who do you think it sounds like? When do you think it was recorded? Etc…

If you know who it is, don’t spoil it for the rest. Anyone who knows it can play the “mockcarr option.” (And I’ve got a hunch at least one of you know this one.) This option is for those of you who just can’t hold your tongue and must let everyone know just how in-the-know you are by calling it. So if you know who it is and want everyone else to know that you know, email Mr. Moderator at mrmoderator [at] rocktownhall [dot] com. If correct we will post how brilliant you are in the Comments section.

The real test of strength though is to guess as close as possible without knowing. Ready, steady, go!

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May 112021
 

Last night, after the rest of the family went to bed, my strangest thought for a long time popped by to say hello. 

I tried sending it away, but it would not go. It just sat there, like Winnie the Pooh stuck in his tree, or the cravings described by Mrs H and female friends and relations when heavy with child. I knew I’d be unable to sleep until my craving was addressed and sated.

It’s been a long old week. That’s my excuse, anyway.

We’ve had local and other elections over here. My day job means I get noticed by those whose role it is to staff them. Because I’m an obliging bloke, and never have spare money, I always agree to help.

So, roughly once a year, but less during a pandemic, I get up at an hour night owls consider bedtime, leave the house (which now, of course, I’m unused to), set up my polling station, work fifteen hours with no breaks – we’re not allowed to go outside other than checking the signage hasn’t blown away – meeting, greeting, and being pleasant to the same public I didn’t want to be nice to again when escaping live retail more than 20 years ago. 

After dark, we close the doors and pack the station down again. I get the added thrill of driving the paperwork across town and sitting in a queue of over a hundred cars doing the same all at once, knowing there is just one desk to process everything at the drop-off. So that takes another 2 hours. Getting home, I try not to notice the hour I got up at yesterday morning approaching the brow of the hill.

This year, I helped at the count as well, driving halfway across the county and back on both Friday and Saturday. I know they’re not like your counties, which are about the size of our continents, but our roads don’t work like yours, with holes like canyons on large and small thoroughfares alike.

To celebrate covid, they gave us clear screens between the counting staff and the candidates, lending the arena a zoo-like atmosphere. I half-expected candidates to start pushing bananas through the gaps between them. It might have improved our performance if they had, or got past their self-absorption.

It takes a certain type of individual to think this bunch of sleep-deprived administrators, all eager to finish and go home, were hand selected by evil genii for their sinister determination to falsify and subvert the vote in ways only the likes of your former leader can imagine in less lucid moments. But exist they do and these individuals are called candidates. Since the elections were postponed last year, two years on this was their moment to shine, and boy did they make the most of it, looking important in their big rosettes and suits even I could tell didn’t come from places I shop

So, Stan, I hear you say, this is all very well, but what’s it got to do with music, let alone the ROCK we come here to talk about? We want to put aside our cares of work and not think about people whose fragile egos demand the validation of an English parish council electorate, representing fewer people than those who turned out to see our bands playing gigs after school.

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May 112021
 
He was a great…man!

Even in his prime, Van Morrison wasn’t ever accused of being remotely “hinged.” He hasn’t married his wife’s daughter yet, so for me, I haven’t quite reached the level of discomfort I feel over Woody Allen. I wonder if he’s fully losing his mind, maybe getting dementia or some other condition that people at his age can get.

I scanned through his new album, with some generic title and clip-art cover. It is as execrable as you might have read in reviews. It’s got that anti-Semitic single you’ve probably heard about. And another song calling those of us on Facebook idiots. All that’s missing is a duet with Clint Eastwood entitled “Get Off My Lawn.” It’s not worth discussing the music. It’s as generic as the album title and cover art. The lyrics are pathetic.

I wonder how much more of these meltdown albums we’re going to be subjected to as the first wave of rockers who wrote their own songs reaches their final years of fear and misery. Pre-rock artists like Sinatra could be spoonfed classics written by others as their personal worldview might have been caving in. That generation of artists didn’t stand for anything personal. They could “Put on a Happy Face” from the American Songbook with the help of a nurse.

Sadly, Van Morrison still has access to his original voice while bitterly rocking away on his porch and watching the world around him become a place that threatens him. He once had the ability to “Listen to the Lion.” I’m going to keep that part of the artist alive and let this present-day crank die off.

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