Mar 162012

This one goes to zero!

Rock Town Hall has a long and honored tradition of rock video analysis, with Townspeople often incorporating the distinctive technique of commenting on videos with the sound off. In honor of alexmagic‘s recent analysis of a video of Tom Jones performing with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, we are instituting a new feature, Sound Off!

The way a Sound Off! thread works is simple:

  • A video is posted for us to view with the sound off.
  • We comment on what we’re seeing with the sound off.
  • We most likely share in the sense of wonder that there’s much to learn about music with the sound off.

You will be entrusted to view the following video with the sound off. If we could disable the video’s sound we would, but something tells me the copyright holder of the video might object to that. Trust us, for the purposes of this thread the sound will get in the way. Beside, you may be viewing this at work, in which case coworkers will only be distbured by your giggles; you won’t have to worry about the artist’s music leaking into their cube.

After the jump, why don’t you turn the sound off and watch the following video!


  27 Responses to “Sound Off!”

  1. BigSteve

    Duck-walking with a keytar, Jan Hammer, seriously? You’re lucking that there is no Rock Prison to go with that Rock Crime. No parole!

    I think it’s a tribute to Chuck Berry’s music that these guys seem to be genuinely having fun. Or I don’t know, maybe it was the coke.

  2. If you didn’t know who these guys were you might think that 1982 Los Angeles Dodgers got together for a little jam.

  3. alexmagic


  4. tonyola

    A possible mitigating factor is that Jan Hammer assisted in developing the true keytar and was the first to use it on stage. So maybe as an innovator (like Berry), that gives him a little license to use the duck-walk. Then again, he could just be a pandering douche.

  5. I don’t want to ruffle any feathers here, but is it me or is Steve Lukather a bit of a jag off?

  6. What’s with performers keeping their backstage passes in sight while performing? That’s the first thing that strikes me about the singer in the orange Members Only jacket. I guess he wants to steer clear of the hassles the Indie Rock Guitar God suffered in our debut Dear Crabby thread.

    Racist dentists would have a field day treating this crew. Lukather displays the first White Man’s Overbite at the 23-second mark.

    At the 46-second mark, after “Luke” and Beck do their Guitar Bump, Santana so badly wants to join in on the fun. His delight is palpable.

    Who saw the big black singer in the unbuttoned ruffled sleeves coming into view? Back Stage Pass didn’t, The crowd goes wild!

    At the 1:06 mark Carlos looks back to the drummer. He longs for a buddy to bop around with. He finally leans in – or is that the bassist or the other bassist? Carlos is way out on the edge of the stage.

    Note how every time the camera shows a close up of Ruffles exhorting the crowd that it’s followed by a shot of the crowd in a frenzy. Who is this guy, a reborn Otis Redding in the body of Percy Sledge? Back Stage Pass looks a little frustrated around the 1:26 mark. “Where’s my frenzied crowd shot?” he seems to be saying.

    1:47: Jeff pulls out his patented Machine Gun stance. (For all his tough talk you’d think Ted Nugent would buy himself a Strat and learn this move.) Carlos approves, still patiently waiting his turn to shine.

    2:02: Lukather’s not going to miss his moment in the spotlight. Watching him wail away, with the sound off, there’s no mistaking his ability to read music.

    2:21: Hammer time!

    At the 2:28 mark Carlos can play the patient, supportive legend no longer. He needs to inject some soul into the proceedings, as he leans forward then writhes backward, conjuring the Spirit of Jimi. Meanwhile Back Stage Pass walks Carlos’ way to try to restore some order. Beck, amused at this pointless effort in reeling in on of rock’s True Visionaries mockingly cheers on the singer. I shouldn’t be surprised that Beck is such a wiseass.

    The Ebony and Ivory moment between the singers that follows fires everyone up, but BSP still can’t get a frenzied crowd shot for his efforts. Beck delights in the singer’s frustration and goads on Hammer to do his duckwalk.

    Not content with driving BSP back to the drum riser, Hammer attempts to joust Ruffles completely off the stage. This tells me all I need to know about these “chops” guys and their feelings toward vocalists. I bet the one singer who could stand up to these cats would have been Al Jarreau. His Rubbery Scat Faces would have put all these wankers in their place.

    At the 3:42 mark an obviously disoriented BSP seems to be asking Beck and Luke where the hell he is. Beck fires his machine gun at him. BSP eventually joins Ruffles in the Clap Section. (Along with Jarreau I would love to see how Jon Anderson, in his dashiki and holding his tambourine, would have managed this fiasco.)

    Around the 4:15 mark Luke’s had one too many solos. As he staggers over to Carlos’ side of the stage Santana steels himself, ripping off some concise Don’t Fuck With Me, Miami Vice Fatboy! licks.

    More later. Feel free to pick up where I left off, flesh out any details I’ve missed.

  7. alexmagic

    WHAT?! I thought you were cool, man.

  8. I would just add, with the sound finally up, it is interesting to hear Lukather follow Beck. Even in this wank-a-thon, Beck’s contribution is at least interesting even if it is ultimately grating and misguided. Lukather is a great example of the vacuousness of technique for the sake of technique. How Lukather managed to distinguish himself from the rest of those weekend warrior guys displaying their tasty licks at Sam Ash on any given Saturday is beyond me. I assume he made a deal with the Devil at some crossroads but the Devil insisted that Steve hand over his soul upfront because there is clearly none left in his playing.

    I’m not sure who the singers are but as good as Ruffles is at working the crowd, I can’t get past the fact that he blows the lyrics to Johnny B. Goode. That is disgraceful.

    And I didn’t think that was a Member’s Only jacket that Back Stage Pass was wearing. It looks like a haz-mat suit which would be fitting because that is some toxic shit that they are into up there.

  9. alexmagic

    Excellent work, Mod. Here’s a few more things I’m seeing:

    First of all, despite all the many, many, many fashion problems going on here, the one I can’t stop focusing on is Beck’s sweater. Specifically, the sweater’s neck hole. What’s going on there? It’s a v-neck and it’s not like Beck has a huge head that would have stretched it out Costanza-style, but pause it at 1:15 and look how the cut of the neck doesn’t match the red V design. And it’s not just that his strap is pulling it askew, the Vs literally do not line up. The neck hole is cut wrong. Did Beck pick this thing up out of the irregular bin at Filene’s Basement? The single arm stripe (or is that the fabled Failed Fashion arm bracer?) is kind of odd, too.

    -My favorite moment, hands down, comes at :42-:45. Check out what happens there: Lukather does a wacky riff, he and Beck then start spinning but Lukather only pretends to spin, while Beck does a full turn, and when he comes back around, Lukather does the same move again. Seem familiar? Is that not the exact Harpo mirror gag from Duck Soup? “Luke” totally pulled a Harpo on Beck there! Maybe Santana is a huge Marx Brothers fan, and that’s why he’s so delighted?

    That’s the first thing that strikes me about the singer in the orange Members Only jacket.

    Man, that jacket. That whole Look. (Edited to add: cdm nailed it, that’s a repurposed Hazmat outfit, or maybe a hazmat outfit finally fulfilling its true purpose.) I did some quick, shoddy research just now which leads me to believe this guy is Jimmy Hall of the band Wet Willie, not John McEnroe as I’d initially hoped. I’m not familiar with him or the band and his work here is uninspiring, but I think maybe he knew he had zero chance to do anything on stage with these three (and Hammer) running around, and both this and the previous Santana/Beck/”Luke”/Hammer clip we reviewed make it clear that Carlos is the stage director. And, once again, a surprisingly generous one…somehow, Beck, Hammer and Lukather have made me dislike Santana a bit less in these outings.

    Who saw the big black singer in the unbuttoned ruffled sleeves coming into view? Back Stage Pass didn’t, The crowd goes wild!

    That’s Buddy Miles, right? I’m not sure why he’s dressed like Meatloaf, but I like it all the same. “Black Meatloaf” seems like a niche that someone could exploit even today.

    -3:20 – Hammer duckwalks across to Carlos, leans in and then Carlos nods right before Hammer tries to duckwalk Buddy Miles off the stage. Did Carlos give Hammer the OK there? Was he pissed at Buddy for something?

    -3:44 – While Beck is in full machine gun mode, Jimmy Hall momentarily reaches for a guitar. Was he so moved by Beck’s fire that he wanted to grab a guitar and join in? Or was he so disinterested that he noticed that guitar was slightly off center and reached in to adjust it? Or, as Mod has implied, does Hall just have a chops-induced concussion and really doesn’t know what’s going on anymore?

    – 5:36 – Buddy, being a buddy, probably sees that Jimmy Hall has serious head trauma and goes to help him out. They do a little Power Squat and then a twist/hip shimmy move. And then we see Carlos (who has never left his spot, has he?) replicating the shimmy, reaffirming that he’s the stage director.

    -Right as this ends at 5:43, Hall seems to come back to life and waves to the crowd to let Japan know he’s OK. Excellent team work by Buddy Miles to help his guy out there. Jeff Beck notices, because he throws up a cheer, and a fully rejuvenated Hall jumps up onto Buddy’s back. This is really powerful, life-affirming stuff, like seeing an injured player get up and leave the field under his own power in football.

    -Once again, I’m impressed how Santana never moves from his spot on the stage. He just camps out over there with his entourage (Doug Wimbish and the Other Other Guy, who is probably someone famous, but I’ve run out of names I can apply to people) and lets these clowns prove for him that he’s the lead dog. Again, I don’t want to say that any of this makes me like Santana any more, but it does make me not like him less. Sort of. But now I’m wondering if there’s any footage of Santana moving, or is he completely immobile once he starts playing?

    Maybe Carlos is not unlike Antaeus of Greek mythology, who was only invincible when he feet were planted on the ground?

  10. bostonhistorian

    12 seconds in the title says “Johnny B. Good”. If you can’t even get the song title right, I can’t be bothered to watch the video. Next!

  11. bostonhistorian

    Johnny B. Goode could play a guitar like ringing a bell, so why do all of these guys look like they’re trying play a guitar like skinning a cat? I can’t even imagine the sound they’re making.

  12. This is Japan, right. They’ll take any kind of jet lagged, drunk on 1st class trans-Pacific booze rockers they can get. Most confusing issue on this video is the partially blurred out names of the participants:
    #eff #eck ##eve #ukather #antana
    Are we not supposed to know????
    Whadaya gonna do about it, ##eve?

  13. tonyola

    The yellow jacket is neither a Member’s Only nor a hazmat outfit (big pockets with snap flaps are hard to de-contaminate). It looks more like a sou’wester-style rough-weather sailing jacket. Maybe the singer is going to tackle the rough seas in Tokyo Bay right after the gig (and look out for Godzilla!).

  14. Just like soccer players at the end of a match, it seems Jeff and Carlos have exchanged shirts.


  15. Those jackets blew even when they were new. Even though it was the 80s, my pals and I would call each other out on wearing “eighties attire.”

  16. We did that among our group of friends, too!

  17. I would expect no less of you. I spent some time checking out Beck’s sweater too. I just saw that Seinfeld you reference in the last week. Good timing.

  18. Those jackets, like RayBan CATs sunglasses and acid wash jeans — you just knew they were wrong.

  19. I don’t know…that could be Steve Sax sharing lead vocals.

  20. The devil thing keeps cracking me up.

  21. tonyola

    Wet Willie was a decent second-line southern-rock band whose one big hit was 1974’s “Keep On Smilin'”. Hall sang lead for Beck in the mid-’80s.

  22. 2000 Man

    I think it was around 1:35, the camera panned out, and it looked like everyone was just standing there, and the drummer just lazily hit a cymbal and then everyone started bouncing up and down on their toes again. It made me laugh. Other than that, all I could think was that Bill Wyman moves more than Carlos Santana and Jeff Beck must be color blind. His guitars are the ugliest colors.

  23. 2000 Man

    I thought that jacket came from the Gorton’s Fisherman Collection.

  24. I thought Back Stage Pass was Paul Michael Glaser just introducing the band at first.

    The arena rock union forced Carlos to comply with the requirement that for every 3 lead guitarists you must employee 2 bassists. One can use his fingers, and one can only use his thumb.

    Yellow, purple, baby blue, green; all the colors of a Skittles package are represented on stage. Black Meatloaf still decides to go with the dragon embroidered bathrobe that he borrowed from the That’s My Momma set.

    And to think the Japanese threw Paul McCartney in jail, but not these guys.

  25. Yeah, Santana completely wins this, with the sound off anyway. Now to turn it up …

  26. Just a few more things:

    3:56 – It isn’t a Johnny B. Goode jam until someone misses the break!

    5:31 – Mutual whammage! If you didn’t know they had whammy bars in their hands, the movement would be surprisingly apropos.

    5:56 – Is jumping on Black Meat Loaf’s back an unfortunate sports-moment emulation, a decades-before-its-time evocation of the Magic Negro theme, or something (even) stupider? The true artist doesn’t answer questions but only raises them.

    6:03 – Yeah, whenever I try something really cool on stage I end up dropping my axe too. But you can console yourself, Jeff Beck, with having won this jam with the sound up. One out of two ain’t bad, as Black Meat Loaf will tell you.

    6:27 – Now we know what BSP was really doing there – just getting drinks for the guys! They called him out there and made him sing! Must’ve been a birthday prank or something.

  27. For all the fantastic insights this thread has provided perhaps none will be as enduring as “Black Meatloaf.”

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