Jul 172012

Last week a guy I only know through Internet means but really enjoy “seeing” posted something about how much cooler Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac are than Bruce Springsteen. I’m not a fan of either band, but thoroughly dig 6 to 8 songs by each band. Stevie Nicks solo, however, is atrocious. What’s that “Tears Like a White Winged Dove” song, or whatever she’s going on about? She should have been gagged once that thing hit the airwaves.

I can understand Boss Backlash as well as anyone, but although I once did a few weeks’ time trying to convince myself of the “genius” of Lindsey Buckingham, the long-running mystification of Fleetwood Mac baffles me. They were a pretty cool, pretty weird mainstream band with a half dozen killer songs. However, I’m too old and was too-cool-for-school as an outwardly dorky teenager to pretend these days that “Landslide” and deep cutz from Buckingham’s Go Insane album should get me looking off into the distance or reflecting on missed opportunities to snort mounds of cocaine.

Fleetwood Mac, Steely DanABBA, and Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band have been discussed here before, I’m sure. Who approved their Critical Upgrades? Each band has its charms. I’m not immune to the best songs by those bands in small doses, but for the last 20 years their stature as Important Mainstream Rock Artists Who Were Hipper Than We Originally Thought has exploded. I can’t buy into this. There were hipper bands then, and there have been hipper bands since. The fact that they were relatively hip doesn’t make them hip. I’ve scoured enough used bins to find relative gems from an era’s music I generally (and probably rightfully) ignored.

What I want to know is which of these bands will lose their Cinderella powers first? Whose limo will turn back into a pumpkin? I think the clock is ticking on at least 2 of the following 4 artists, while 1 artist’s belated hip status is ascending. What do you think? What other bands fall into this category, and what perhaps rightfully looked down-up (by music snobs) ’80s artists are now becoming unfathomably hip?

Which '70s mainstream band that became hip long after the fact is due to revert to its previously uncool status first?

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  33 Responses to “Return of the Pumpkin: Is the End Near for ’70s Mainstream Bands That Became Hip Long After the Fact?”

  1. Bob Seger had some good songs before the Silver Bullet Band. Fleetwood Mac were good before they became Fleetwood Mac. Steely Dan will always have “Reeling in the Years”. ABBA is, was and always will be, utter slop.

  2. Nope, can’t get behind this concept. Even at my most 1977-as-Year-Zero, indier than thouiest, I still thought Fleetwood Mac at their best were really fucking cool. Just when I was about to write them off around the time “Gypsy” was omnipresent on the radio — which bugged the shit out of me because of the way Stevie namedropped the Velvet Underground as if she had ever actually heard any of their records — within months of that, Lindsey released “Holiday Road.” None of us will ever be as cool as the man who recorded “Holiday Road.”

    That said, just about everything any of them has done since then has sucked.

  3. I like a few songs by both Seger and ABBA, but I don’t think that etiher is considered hip. I think people just came out of the closet about liking ABBA and embraced the delicious cheese. And a few Kid Rock references doesn’t make Seger cool. Any Seger-love is pure nostalgia.

    I like Mac ‘n’ Dan a lot more than the other two and I think they are perceived as more “serious artists” in general. The Dan probably wins any hipness contest based on the fact that a bunch of their tracks were sampled by hip hop artists (who, I think, also inexplicably embraced Phil Collins).

    I only have the big three Mac albums but I’m on Team Lindsey. Both he he and Mick Fleetwood have a very unique styles of playing and I think they have put out some stuff that sounds normal with a casual listen but gets weirder late at night with the headphones on.

  4. I think the 70’s dino-bands have become the best arena rock bands we have. The 80’s and 90’s bands (mostly) don’t have the following and don’t have the big rock concert mentality.

    Nugent, Styx, Fleetwood Mac, Frampton, Aerosmith, ZZ Top, Foreigner, REO, can still rock a decent size concert hall. They have basically been on tour since the mid 70’s.

    Steely Dan was my dad’s favorite band since their 1st LP but never did much for me until I was in my late 20’s and had a long commute. I borrowed their complete works and became a HUGE fan. I’ve seen them the last 5 times they have played Atlanta and listen to them weekly.

    I’ve always like Bob Seger but don’t have anything on CD of his (some vinyl I’m sure in the attic)

    Was into Fleetwood Mac in the 80’s and then again recently and saw the Christie McVie-less version and they were pretty good.

    I think that they 70’s bands just hold up better than the 80’s band and the 90’s groups (talking about the big ones that would have mass appeal) mostly sucked and only had a short success.

  5. First of all, if anyone is responsible for over-inflating Seger, it’s RTH.

    I think it’s natural for music fans to re-claim once terminally unhip artists. Isn’t that what happened to The Beach Boys? You can quibble that preening, smug dick Mike Love is now underrated, but I’d still rather the band get their due for stuff other than “Kokomo.” The Kinks went through it too. I was aghast as a kid that no one I knew had heard “Waterloo Sunset” and thought they sang “What I Like About You.” I’m glad things have changed.

    Also, sometimes people loosen up as they get out of their 20s and are okay with liking, say, Fleetwood Mac. I prefer this to the ’90s, when everyone dressed like shit and pretended that lo-fi and Gastr del Sol were enjoyable. (Although, yes, there is a lot about that decade I also miss.)

    And while I’m a bit befuddled about how many people I know were excited to see Roger Waters at Citizen’s Bank Park this past weekend, that’s just the way it goes.

    “Who approved their Critical Upgrades?” Please. It doesn’t work that way. Never has. Thank goodness.

  6. You’d be surprised at how many young bands cite Seger as a major influence.

  7. I demand these bands present their Critical Upgrade paperwork!

  8. Slim Jade

    For me, this is an easy, and divisive vote.

    Fleetwood Mac should and will continue to reign as survivors and musical chroniclers of the things that make us all too human. Their Laurel Canyon hedonism and Dionysian excesses aside, the band has been at it since the late 60’s John Mayall days. They’re like a lifeboat of fuck-ups who tolerate each other’s foibles, and create heartfelt songs and instrumentation to record their passage.

    To dismiss their songs of the dramas, the joys, the infidelity, the deception, the masks we wear, and the moments of rapture we find in our amorous associations to each other would be to deny our part in those exploits.

    And it’s like, who the fuck are we, to think we’re too cool for that?

    Yes, indeed, they have had their embarrassing moments as they age, and the advent of video promotion pushed them into music our parents could like, but I can’t say they’ve jumped the shark, or that their monuments to all the bullshit and bliss that we put ourselves through in our romantic relationships is crumbling.

    Besides, I think we have something of a Brian Wilson in Lindsey Buckingham, and though I wouldn’t touch her with a ten-foot-pole, Stevie Nicks was the imagined accompaniment to many nocturnal teen longings.

    Steely Dan? Well yes, they too are on the soundtrack to my formative years. I groove to them, I appreciate their jazzy touches and production qualities, and they named themselves after a dildo in a William Burroughs novel. Cool? Check.

    Though Mrs.Jade is going to scowl and give me her harrumph face, ABBA were never anything more than kitsch in my book.

    Bob Seger? Blecch. Though I do hear something lusty and true in “Night Moves”, he was never hip to begin with.

  9. alexmagic

    Yeah, I’m not seeing any kind of consensus “Critical Upgrade” for Steely Dan or Seger out there. *I* like Steely Dan, but they’re still pretty much the go-to band uncool/”anti-rock” band for most people and anybody who likes them now is probably exactly the same kind of person who would have liked them the first time around.

    And, as Oats says, Seger’s biggest championing has been done either here in the Hall or by Kid Rock. Strange bedfellows, indeed. That said, I could see Seger as a guy on the verge of getting an actual, misguided Critical Upgrade sometime soon.

    I feel like ABBA’s “Critical Upgrade” will stick now, as I don’t see pop or dance music falling out of mainstream favor any time soon. I have previously come out on the mostly pro-ABBA side as far as RTH goes, but I do feel like they intercepted the Critical Upgrade that should have gone to ELO instead.

    I have no opinions on Fleetwood Mac.

  10. Well, well well. The AV Club just published a piece where Jon Hamm put his iPod on shuffle and comments on whatever comes up.


    Fleetwood Mac, “Don’t Stop”

    JH: This is a perfect 41-year-old white guy song to end on. Bill Clinton’s favorite song. It’s the perfect end to this ridiculous mix of songs. But I do really like Fleetwood Mac. I unapologetically like those guys. I have a very soft spot in my heart for all late-’70s/early-’80s popular music, whether it’s Steely Dan or Fleetwood Mac or fill-in-the-blank. It was the formative years of my life, and I unapologetically, lustily celebrate it. So there.

    AVC: Did you fall for Stevie Nicks or Christine McVie?

    JH: I mean, forget about it. Stevie Nicks, you know? There’s a lot of scarves. She had a cool voice.

    So I guess Don Draper’s not cool enough for RTH?

  11. That show sucks. If this were TV discussion blog I’d be beating up on you people for falling for that shit.

  12. I’m pretty sure The Hold Steady owes a great debt to Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, and I’m pretty sure Craig Finn is not a Townsman.

  13. You know it’s a matter of time before Jack White produces Bob Seger’s return to garage-rock glory career-capping album:

  14. misterioso

    Dude, you are way off base. This might be the time for me to mention that I saw Moonrise Kingdom and that it was good but not great. But Mad Men is the goods. Snap out of it.

  15. misterioso

    Could be the heat is getting to me or that I am too old to know or care who is hip. But late 70s Fleetwood Mac is always going to retain some claim on coolness because so much of it is just well-constructed pop with great hooks. The Buckingham-as-genius thing is a mystery to me, but for a while he was really good at what he was doing.

    ABBA has about fine pop gems. Steely Dan has always been way overrated in my book, but having said that I have fondness for some of their stuff. Bad Sneakers. My Old School. Great stuff.

    Seger–I find it hard to believe Seger has become cool. If so, I am cool with that. Of course a lot of the post-Night Moves Seger is unbearably middle of the road. But a lot that came before that is pretty good stuff; and I am always going to be on the team of the guy in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IK6ql7fKG0U

  16. ladymisskirroyale

    Yes, and they all have beards.

  17. ladymisskirroyale

    I, too, watched 2 episodes of Mad Men on my flight home and I was hooked! Good acting, great clothes, good writing, good acting. Thoroughly enjoyable.

    Did anyone see Sunday’s Political Animals? THAT was also an addicting 1.33 hours.

  18. Dude, I count on you to have my back. Let’s not air out our occasional differences of opinion in public, OK?

    Seriously, I’ve only watched about 15 minutes of Mad Men. I am sick of the glorification of that era. I am sure I missed a lot of what people appreciate in the show in the two 7.5-minute stretches that I tried watching it, but I wasn’t digging it.

  19. I think that ABBA retains their later day cool precisely because they were never rock and today it is a dance music world. I can tolerate some of their tunes in an intellectual way but I can’t dig it. Fleetwood Mac was extremely popular and a little weird, so they deserve their hip factor as well. I really like Steely Dan but was overexposed to them during my formative years, so I can’t be judge them fairly but they’ve got that smooth-jazz/dirty-old-man thing that makes them attractive to the young’uns.

    Seger I do not get. I don’t see them as all that cool any time after ’76; certainly not now.

  20. ladymisskirroyale

    Mr. Mod, are you trying to get my goat? I come back from a relaxing vacation and wake up to find that you’ve thrown down the gauntlet: Two of your mentioned bands are personal favorites of mine (insert photos of the Laurel Canyon set and the Swedish group with gloves and goats here), and I like Steely Dan and Donald Fagan’s solo work. Bob – sexy voice but never that much in to him.

    There are too many issues being raised in your initial post for me to consider responding to without my head exploding. But I think the crux of the subsequent responses have pointed out a key issue: Who said these bands are cool?

    Cinderella status? Really? Maybe an upswing in popularity but not necessarily of coolness. So some current bands are covering your list of upstarts or citing them as references. But as others have already mentioned, people who cite them liked these bands already or are being contrary by mentioning them as interests or influences. Given the climate of today’s artists that places a heavy emphasis on irony, critical upgrades may reflect that ironic view of hipness rather than the belief that they are cool.

    Forget cool. What I think is valued more on this site is the way the music makes us feel. I love ABBA and have unsuccessfully tried to get my music friends to appreciate them, too. (My dancer friends generally love Abba too, so there’s the rift right there.) I can go on and on about my love and appreciation for much of the Abba oeuvre but I’ll save that for a future stab at a critical upgrade. I also really, really like Fleetwood Mac and would consider “Tusk” to be a desert island album for me. Although it reflected the beginning of the end of their cohesiveness, Tusk was an album that continued to reflect a conversation among the group members, something that was lost starting with Mirage and Tango In the Night. Steely Dan – I like the jazziness and the oblique lyrics. Seger – he’s music to drink beer to, for better or for worse.

    And finally, I think that it’s important to separate the output of the above-mentioned bands from the output of the solo work. I think most of us would agree that the solo work suffers. (Like cdm, though, I’m on a member of the Lindsey Buckingham fan club.) I couldn’t get in to Anni-Frid Lyngstad’s albums.

  21. cliff sovinsanity

    Seger is in dire need of a rediscovery but not necessarily an upgrade. I’m speaking mainly of the stretch early 70’s workingman’s rock found on Mongrel, Back In 72 and the covers heavy Smokin OP’s. Much like Mac, there is too much focus on the latter mainstream singles stuff and less on the early albums. The supersaturation of Silver Bullet era songs on radio has hurt Seger more than Mac, Dan of ABBA.

    If we are talking critical upgrade, the consensus on those Seger System albums is sufficiently positive.

    If you can find it in your heart to ignore the dreck of Mac and Dan albums in the 80’s, I’m sure you could afford Bob the same luxury.

    And while I’m at it Mr. Mod, don’t you think 15 minutes is too little to judge a brilliant character driven show. All the 60’s stuff is pretty to look at, but it rarely interrupts the storylines.

  22. Yo, Mad Men can’t hold a meth pipe to Breaking Bad! Yo, science, bitches!

  23. hrrundivbakshi

    Dude: we REACH. My wonderful, brilliant wife with perfect taste (because she agrees with me) agreed with me that Mad Men was wholly irritating — I love me some mid-century modern stylee, but really… there’s obviously an effort to bridge the pop culture consumption gap by alternately making chicks fall in love with handsome dudes in skinny ties — and dudes fall in lust with hourglass chicks with big tits… and making all of us enlightened 21st-century people recoil in entertained horror at the backwardness of the 1950s. It all seemed so calculated, like a Disney “E”-ticket to Space Mountain or something.

  24. I love you and your wife. Yes, that’s the set of mixed messages that bugs me about a lot of cultural touchstones these days. I had similar feelings about The Sopranos, of which I actually watched 3 full episodes a few seasons into its run.

    I feel like we’re being suckered into holding onto outdated, rightfully fading notions of American life through appeals to our intellect and sense of irony. Although this does not tie into my feelings about Wes Anderson movies, it’s likely to cause some great friends around here as much agita as my views on that director’s underlying messages. For that sense of agita may I recommend Brioschi?

  25. trigmogigmo

    Slim, we reach! Lots of good commentary there.

    There are several reasons why I like Mac quite a bit. I don’t think their hipness is after the fact. They were huge in that time.

    All that interpersonal turmoil is backstory but it does lend more weight and angst to some of the songs. I saw a retrospective interview/guitar demo with Lindsey Buckingham where he described “Never Going Back Again” as sort of a ‘i’ve moved on, f.u.’ liberation song directed at Stevie, which makes it all the more interesting to see her duet with him on it live. (Incredible guitar recording on the album version, too.)

    The group was really tight. Fleetwood and John McVie really make a good rhythm section. The three vocalists gel incredibly well. Mick’s drums on “Go Your Own Way” are great as are the harmonies and outro guitar solo. “World Turning” reminds of some earlier Mac song with its growling blues guitar but with Buckingham’s funky faingerpickin’. It all seemed pretty hip and cool to me at the time, though frankly at the time I was a bit young to take it all in.

    Finally, much later learning the fact that Buckingham and Nicks had been two local kids at a neighboring high school to mine (quite a few years earlier of course!) who made such a leap kind of makes me root for them.

  26. trigmogigmo

    Hail to the king, you anti-Dentites!

  27. Yes! If you don’t mind a schtickle of violence. (bitches)

  28. Seger did himself a disservice by making his best LPs so hard to find (most are not on CD at all) They did just release Live Bullet on CD and MP3 and he has leaked out a few of the older tunes on a comp (or were they re-recorded). Most people are tired of the Best Of CD.

    The DAN put out their complete works on 4-Cds and the strongest material was not the hits. It showed a new generation of fans that they were more than “Peg” (my least favorite song) and that there was “King Of The World” “Any Major Dude” “Don’t Take Me Alive” “AJA”etc that the radio did not play (ok maybe 70’s FM late night)

  29. Slim Jade

    Really? I teach in Buckingham’s home town. Are we neighbors?

  30. trigmogigmo

    Basically my stomping grounds. I live across the bay now but head over there on occasion.

  31. trigmogigmo

    Hope you’ve seen this:

  32. ladymisskirroyale

    I’m guessing you are a Temescal or Rockridge kind of guy.

  33. trigmogigmo

    I know those neighborhoods fairly well–good eats! Home is Alameda.

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