Nov 272011

Sounds of the Hall in roughly 33 1/3 minutes!

In this week’s edition of Saturday Night Shut-In Mr. Moderator plays some of his selections for The Worst of the Best songs by favorite artists in his collection. You may remember this thread from earlier in the week, in which Townspeople chose their SINGLE WORST SONG from the prime era of 3 of their favorite bands. Tonight the Moderator airs some of his selections from among some of his cherished bands. You may suffer along with him or, who knows, you may find this the coolest collection of songs he’s ever played. Enjoy – and it’s never too late to add to the original thread or keep it going here.

[audio:|titles=RTH Saturday Night Shut-In, episode 55]

[Note: The Rock Town Hall feed will enable you to easily download Saturday Night Shut-In episodes to your digital music player. In fact, you can even set your iTunes to search for an automatic download of each week’s podcast.]


  34 Responses to “Rock Town Hall’s Saturday Night Shut-In: The Worst of the Best!”

  1. trigmogigmo

    Great show, but I’ll defend the XTC songs you picked. (Not the picks, the songs!) I have to say I wouldn’t change a single bar of Skylarking. Sure, as a standalone single I would never pick “Sacrifical Bonfire” as a standout track, but I can’t imagine the album without it closing out the cycle. “Sgt. Rock” is certainly not critical to Black Sea, and it’s only serious when looked at from specific angles, but has those cool parts you mentioned and Andy is definitely getting his creative wordsmithing going on that song.

  2. So what would you pick, trigmo, as the worst of the best from that period I mention, excluding Colin Moulding (and Barry Andrews) songs?

  3. trigmogigmo

    OK, I won’t cop out — “Outside World”

    There are some close seconds, but in most cases there is some neat guitar part or chord change or rhythm.

    “Shake You Donkey Up” is annoying in so many ways. Something saves it from the chopping block.

  4. mockcarr

    I disagree on The Seeker, that’s a decent riff-driven song that doesn’t sound like R2-D2 was a session musician. I think Pete is confused enough to believe those lyrics, too. But you knew I’d say that.

    I like Big Black Smoke as a little story song, along with the usual descending riff and overall ’66 sound, etc. Maybe it’s just as a b-side to Dead End Street making it of a piece, but I wouldn’t pick on it compared to later goofy stuff like Have A Cuppa Tea.

  5. alexmagic

    Oh man, I love Outside World, especially the guitar on it. I also like Sgt. Rock, but I can see how that (and Shake You Donkey Up) could rub people the wrong way.

  6. alexmagic

    I agree on liking Big Black Smoke, but I also like Plastic Man, and Big Black Smoke kinda, sorta sounds like a slower cousin to Plastic Man, so I’m not surprised it falls on the Mod’s lesser-loved pile.

    I also really like The Seeker, and as mockcarr says, it’s for the riff. If I could improve The Seeker in one way, I’d change the “I asked Bobby Dylan” line to something else, just because the “Bobby” is kind of annoying.

    If I could improve The Seeker in two ways, I’d change to to “The Seger” and it woudl be the theme song to a TV show where Bob Seger drives around in a Ford solving union-based crimes in Michigan.

  7. This extended thread is all about the right to agree to disagree – I think we can agree on that much. For me the main sin of “The Seeker,” which does have some cool guitar stuff going on and which I was reminded of while it blasted out at me to my surprise and reconsideration late Saturday night, while revisiting the excellent film The Limey for the first time in years, is the lyrics. They seriously violate the “show, don’t tell” rule. I get no sense that anyone involved in that song is actually seeking anything but my buy-in that Townshend really is a seeker. Pete should have kept on seeking and not taken the time out to tell me about it.

    I love “Have a Cuppa Tea,” by the way.

  8. I love “Big Black Smoke” and “Outside World.” I’m cool with “The Seeker” too. This whole Worst-of-the-Best thing is going to end badly, isn’t it?

  9. misterioso

    Agreed that anything referring to “Bobby” Dylan is a problem. But “The Seeker” is a great song.

  10. alexmagic

    I meant to put in my support for Cuppa Tea, as well. I think that’s one of those rare comedy songs that delivers comedically – I think I’d like to commission Oats to figure out if Ray Davies has the highest comedy song batting average, or at least the most hits in the category – while still having some fine performance on guitar.

    I do agree that it’s fair to wonder if I’d still think as highly of “The Seeker” if it hadn’t been for it’s excellent use in The Limey.

  11. mockcarr

    That is astonishing, given how you don’t usually care for songs that go for funny. I was picking that as an example because of that, not because I think it sucks or anything.

  12. mockcarr

    I think a really good rock riff is enough to overcome a lot of problems a song might have.

  13. Davies gets very strong competition in the comedy-in-music game from Randy Newman and Jarvis Cocker. My three favorite lyricists!

  14. This is one of the reasons the Kinks rank so highly in my book, mockcarr. Beside, when they do this kind of song I often find it more than just “funny.” Davies often empathizes with his silliest characters. Now that song about the hat for some princess I can’t stand for musical reasons above all else, but I gave it a pass in my Worst of the Best rankings because that Arthur album is so tied to its overarching themes.

  15. mockcarr

    I think the “buddy can you spare me a dime” workout in the middle and silly ending are fun enough and comprise 2/3 of the song anyway. That’s a song that does work in context and the idea of presenting a certain face to the world while you are struggling, i.e. the stiff upper lip, is such a classic British thing that Ray had to keep going to that sort of story time and again.

  16. trigmogigmo

    I was shocked to hear the opening notes of “The Seeker” as the show played. Totally unfair! I agree about The Limey, it was almost the first thing I thought of.

  17. trigmogigmo

    “Outside World” is not a bad song. I did not want a Cop Out stamp applied, so I had to find something. It just feels like a bit of a throw-away to me.

  18. Yeah, I disagree with “Big Black Smoke” and “The Seeker” being the worst. I was also somewhat dismayed to hear Mr. Mod make an example of Eno’s “Cindy Tells Me”.

  19. alexmagic

    Another point for “…Princess Marina” – Avory gets that bit on the drums at the end that serve as a pretty fine cap to his overall work on Arthur, his finest hour.

    Secondary Arthur point: though it would change the overall vibe of the album, I think Princess Marina could work as the closing song, thematically. As could “Nothing To Say” and as does “Arthur” itself. All three of them have closing song potential, but I think either replacement would be a considerably darker way to end things, even though Marina is a song with wacky seal horns on it.

  20. Excluding filler bits on Another Green World what prime Eno “rock” song would you rather skip?

  21. Mwall, BigSteve, anyone really smart and respected by all, please back me on my selection. Geo, you’ve been in my corner when the chips are down.

  22. Let this man’s actions be your guide, Townspeeps! The Cop Out car will not stop at your house.

  23. tonyola

    Those “filler bits” on Another Green World and Before and After Science are just as important as the vocal songs given Eno’s style and predilictions. However, if you limit me to vocal songs, then I pick “Here He Comes” from Science. It’s just a little too bland and conventional-sounding for the otherwise superb album.

  24. I’m here. First off, excellent pick in “Unfaithul Servant”. Nice vocal, nice guitar solo, but the first whiff of Robbie Robertson dropping the Jaime and getting too self important for his own britches.

    There is definitely something wrong with “The Seeker”. I agree with your lyrcal complaints, but in addition to the clumsiness of the lyric, there is a clumsiness to the music too. They seem to thrash around on this one with little sense of the tension and release that they routinely get on their best songs. It might be a decent rock riff, but I con’t see it as a decent Who riff. That said, I still don’t skip it when it comes up on Meaty, beaty… because I think it reveals something of the truly geeky Pete in the same way Lou Reed shines through in some of his trainwrecks.

  25. geo, you ARE the man!

    Stay tuned, Philly area types, for word on a live RTH gathering over the holidays. geo, I’ll buy you a soft drink.

  26. mockcarr

    Maybe it’s because Entwistle’s carrying more of the riff than usual too.

  27. mockcarr

    Maybe so as to theme, but I’m happy enough the jam songs end the sides on Arthur so I can just move on when I get tired of them.

  28. tonyola

    The Kinks get away with “Marina” because when they go into goofy kazoo/jugband mode, it doesn’t seem like an affectation – it’s a style that sounds like it comes naturally to the band. As I implied in another post, the Stones and Who can’t pull it off so easily. Ray’s slightly boozy and unmistakably English singing is a prize, too.

    By the way, Mr. Mod, the proper title of the song is “She’s Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina”. Please note that for your poll.

  29. trigmogigmo

    Two addendums:
    1) Boy, the question is much easier if you allow Moulding’s songs! (No disrespect, Mr. Moulding, you have many charming and great songs in the XTC canon.)
    2) To be truthful, I probably would change a few minor things in Skylarking. One that comes to mind is that big bell sound that tracks the humming in “mm-mm-mm-mm, mm-mm-mm-mm / the meeting place”. It needs to be lowered in the mix or replaced with something simpler like a guitar playing those notes. Also, although I love “Earn Enough for Us” and “That’s Really Super, Supergirl” and like their distinctive drum sound, I find Prarie Prince’s rhythm there too robotic.

  30. misterioso

    Yes, Unfaithful Servant is a bit of a drag, rather like Lonesome Suzie on Big Pink. Neither is truly bad but they are skip-worthy on most listens.

  31. hrrundivbakshi

    Oh, Lord — you two need a check-up from the neck up! “Unfaithful Servant” is one of the best tracks on that album! I have to pull supper out of the oven right now, but I have enough time to say you two are mental!

  32. I can see why you would think that’s one of the best tracks on the album.

  33. BigSteve

    I haven’t had time to hear the podcast, but I’m with Mod: Unfaithful Servant is weak. The acoustic guitar solo was a bad idea, though I *love* the sax solo at the end.

    Something went wrong when Robbie tried to write for Danko. I think he was a supernaturally good harmony singer, but I’ve become less tolerant of his lead vocals over the years.

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