Aug 122021

I just learned that trumpeter Jon Hassell died in late June. I had no idea. I guess the news of the passing of the likes of Hassell, an avant-garde trumpeter who’s playing did make it to Talking Heads’ Remain in Light album, gets pushed down on the list of concerns in a world more concerned with…whatever.

I stumbled on Hassell’s 2 albums on EG in the early 1980s, at the Temple University bookstore. I met our old friend General Slocum at Temple, and the two of us used to visit that bookstore every few days to rifle through the bins of cutout albums. For some reason, they had cutouts of the EG catalog, so we bought up everything we could find: Eno, Fripp, Penguin Cafe Orchestra…and Hassell. These albums were typically imports that only hipster rich kids could afford. We were getting them for $1.98 a pop!

Dream Theory in Malaya particularly caught my ear. There was something about that album that went so well with my mix of being emotionally distraught, ridiculously ambitious, and high 24/7. I don’t know what he’s actually up to musically, but it’s as if time is pulling against itself. The first track on this album, “Chor Moire,” really knew how to kick my buzz into hyperspace.

All these years, I never learned a thing about Hassell the man. I’m pretty sure he was British. I knew he was already old by the time I got into him – and by “old” I mean about 20 years younger than I am now. I kept up with many of his post-EG albums, but those 2 I bought at the Temple bookstore, with the Eno/EG stamp of approval, continue to be my favorites.

If you don’t think you’ve ever heard a lick of Hassell’s music, perhaps you have, on Talking Heads’ “Houses in Motion.” I love his sound!



 Posted by
Aug 092021
Billy Harner (of “Sally’s Saying Something” fame)

Have you been to and/or performed at an indoors live show since the mid-March 2020 lockdown? I have not yet. My band is scheduled to play a show on September 23 that was already postponed twice. I’m looking forward to it, but I’m wondering if it’s going to get postponed again, what it will be like to play and hang at a live show again, and what we’ll all do if shows start getting postponed again.

If that last thing happens, I will aim to get creative. I’m always on the fence about playing live and seeing bands live as it is, but I miss the engagement with people. I miss seeing those bands that are meant to play live.

Wondering what’s on your mind…

Aug 012021

Looks like McCartney 3, 2, 1 is not a winner. I don’t want to spoil the party, but the fact of the matter is that there isn’t much here to write home to grandma about.

Don’t buy into the hype, and know that all this comes from a fan on a Ripley’s-like level. The best thing about this whole snoozefest is McCartney’s Look, which borrows heavily from that of Paul Weller. Like Weller’s, it succeeds, and that’s saying a lot. Most geriatric rockers who opt for that kind of thing fail miserably. Those two pull it off. Kudos to the both of you.

What you get with McCartney 3, 2, 1 is 3 black and white turd-polished hours of a humble Rick Rubin (the Captain Lou Albano thing is getting old by the way ) encouraging McCartney’s telling of the same stories we’ve heard over and over again, once fascinating stories ruined by repeated retellings. If you’re looking for something truly revelatory, check out the interviews on YouTube with tape engineer Geoff Emerick and assistant Richard Lush. Emerick, surprisingly, doesn’t recall any of the Beatles mentioning anything about the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds during his time with the group in or out of the studio. I always thought it was interesting how McCartney’s holy grail opinion of the LP kicked in around the same time as the mass-media revisitation of Pet Sounds in the early 1990s. Maybe McCartney’s Catholic upbringing got the better of him, and he decided to do an unhinged Brian Wilson a big favor by giving it his stamp of approval. (Honestly, is Pet Sounds that good, like Revolver good?)

Time will tell if all that’s true or not, especially if Mark Lewisohn is once again given permission from Apple to research its trove of tapes, films, and documents, which leads me to the real point of this critique/rant. What McCartney has served up post Band on the Run has been of marginal quality, entertaining at best, embarrassing at worst. What he’s done artistically for the last 45 years or so hasn’t been that much different from your average Joe’s continual weekly bowling nights. They’re fun, but they don’t add up to a whole lot.

Not so with McCartney’s work with the Beatles. It’s a body of work that would give God’s creation of the world a run for its money. And because of that, the story behind it deserves an attention to detail nothing short of The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. Mark Lewisohn has proved time and time again that he is indeed the man for the job. So Paul, I beseech thee, do something really worthwhile and memorable for the first time in such a long time. Give Mark back the keys to the kingdom so he can complete his Beatles trilogy in order that your otherworldly legacy will be laid out with all the painstaking precision and objectivity it so deserves.

Jul 292021

Last night, I dreamed that E. Pluribus Gergeley and I went to a record show together. For some reason, he drove, so I was relying on his wheels to get home after the event. At one point, EPG asked me whether I liked the song “I’m Looking Through You” by the Beatles. I replied, more to get his goat than anything else, that I considered it “a seven out of 10.” Upon hearing this, EPG flew into a rage and split, stranding me at the dream record show. Things got weirder when he sent a flunky over with a smoked ham, asking if I’d trade my copy of “Rubber Soul” for it. I refused, which angered him all the more, and the next thing I heard, EPG was slagging my name all over the show, telling all and sundry that I couldn’t be trusted because I didn’t even think the Beatles were as good as smoked ham. Then I woke up.

Anyway, my question is this: have you ever had a falling out with a friend, significant other, or person you otherwise respected because you learned they had an utterly indefensible position on a band, album, song, genre, what have you?

I look forward to your responses.. And EPG, I hope we’re still tight. I actually love that song — and I probably would trade you a decent copy of Rubber Soul for a high-quality smoked ham. Though country ham would be preferable.


Jul 282021

I’m not clever enough to properly embed the link you see above, so it just plays auto-magically. So click on the link, and spend a few moments remembering “the Dust.”

Also: it seems only fitting on this sad day that — yes, seriously — footage has finally emerged of the Top playing on their Worldwide Texas Tour. Enjoy.

Memory eternal.



Mystery Date!

 Posted by
Jul 242021

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!

Here are 3 tracks by the same Mystery Band.



 Posted by
Jul 202021

I do like a good rock “woo.” You know what I mean by a “woo,” I hope. I mean those moments when somebody in the band just has to let out a cathartic, falsetto “woo” at a critical, “woo”-worthy juncture in a song.

Do you have any favorite rock “woo”s? I’ve posted an audio collage of a few of mine above. For extra credit, identify them. I look forward to your responses.



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