Jan 192016

Two shows about music in the late 70’s are coming to television this year. Both show have the blueprint of something I would look forward to watching. Yet, something about the promos for these shows smells a little off. Is it just me?

If you were paying attention to the commercials during this NFL post season, you most likely saw ads for the upcoming HBO series Vinyl. If you haven’t, see the clip below. The story of Vinyl is set in New York in the late 70’s at the dawn of punk, rap and the rise of disco. The show comes with the backing of heavyweights Martin Scorsese, Terrence Winter and Mick Jagger as executive producers. Scorsese and Winter had previous success with the prohibition era crime drama Boardwalk Empire, another east coast show set during a volatile period in American culture. I liked that show a hell of a lot and the producers proved a lot of critics wrong with the casting of Steve Buscemi in the lead role. This time around the cast of Vinyl is led by Bobby Cannavale. He’s always been a cilantro kind of guy when I see him in the movies. Also troubling, are the promo clips. It all looks like something we’ve seen before. Guy has a vision, guy discovers something, gets rich , gets the girl, does a lot of blow, lives life to excess and presumably falls back to earth. This time around though, it’s all set to the soundtrack of the New York Dolls, CBGB’s and Studio 54.

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Dec 232014

I just bought tickets to go see The Pat Travers Band at our little suburban club in Vienna, VA. As teenager, I was into this stuff for a short period of time, and it will be a fun retro trip back for me and my fellow-Midwestern buddy. I remember buying his albums, other than his big live album, in the cutouts. He was on Polydor records in the late ’70s, and for some reason a lot of their artists ended up in the $2.99 bin as I recall.

Most of Pat’s music strikes me as just missing the hard rock mark for some reason I can’t put my finger on. Is it because it wasn’t drilled into my head on what became Classic Rock radio?

It’s “off-brand” rock—not quite up to Bad Company or Aerosmith at their best, and probably more than a few notches below. It reminds me of Tommy Bolin solo records or Robin Trower or UFO. Of course, I am probably  thinking about this the wrong way—because these folks have their diehard fans,  I just grew out of it. Anyway, I am kind of looking forward to seeing what Pat is up to at age 61.

Do you have any “off-brand” rock in your stacks that you listen to?

Apr 262013


Ok, so every time I hear Steely Dan on the radio, I immediately think of Bond’s Mr. Wint & Mr. Kidd. Maybe part of the reason is that I don’t really know the “Band” — Fagen and Decker — other than small snatches I’ve seen of them — but their legend looms large in my mind.

On the surface, this is a band that I should not like a wit. Jazz Fusion! Studio musicians!! Odd vocal stylings. What gives?? Yet — although I don’t OWN any SD — I like them when I hear them. And the solo for “Reelin’ in the Years” by said studio axeman is one of my all-time faves.

By looming large, I mean I picture a studio teeming with ’70s excesses — women in jumpsuits, coke, shag carpeting, etc.

So I probably won’t be downloading and Steely Dan for the old iPod. But if I’m ever at some cool party, chock-full of modern, Eames-inspired furniture, and this is coming out of the Blaupunkt’s, I’ll nod my head and say, Yes…I can live with this.

I know most bands have a persona that is larger than life. But did Steely Dan ever try to cultivate it the way that, say Zeppelin did?

Should I break down and buy this band? Help …

Oct 232012

You know those artists whose albums you’ve seen sitting in used bins as long as you’ve been a music lover, bands like Bloodwyn Pig, The Strawbs, and Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel? Well, Cockney Rebel just came up in the Freddie Mercury biography I’m reading, and I thought it was time I check them out. This is the first clip I tried:

Not what I expected! I need Happiness Stan and our long, lost friend tonyola to put their heads together and explain this band. I know we’ve got some other Brits and maybe even some closet-prog fans (if, indeed, this is a genre in which this band was loosely categorized) on board. Maybe they can help me. Let’s try another song by these guys:

May 212012

Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees died yesterday, 5 weeks following reports of his impending death. I’ve got a horrible knack for occasionally posting inappropriate-if-deeply-personal obituaries, but Robin Gibb’s death saddens me to an appropriate level. The Bee Gees, in my book, were among the Good Guys of Music. I know nothing about who they really were, how they treated the Little People, etc, but their love for music seemed to guide all their weird turns as artists. It’s all about the music, man, and the Bee Gees exemplified that. I mean, what other group of white artists—Australians cum the British Invasion, no less—got through the disco era without charges of “Sell Out?” It was preposterous that this whitest of white, toothy trio would be the Kings of Disco. And they meant it, man.

It’s sad that 3 out of 4 Brothers Gibb died young. Momma Gibb, who I’ve seen in Bee Gees documentaries, is still alive. No mom should have to live through the death of 3 of her sons. That’s really sad, even if I didn’t like the music of the Bee Gees. But like their music I do!

My Mom was so into the Bee Gees’ disco records—and then their astounding contributions to Saturday Night Fever! The Disco Era marked the period in her early 30s when she “found herself,” as we used to say. She grew into her own skin during those really tough years following my parents’ divorce. The girl who used to dance on American Bandstand, as she reminded me she did following Dick Clark’s recent death, was spending her precious free time on the weekends out on the disco floor, looking for Mr. Right, or Mr. Goodbar, as it might have turned out. Getting out for a night of dancing was pure joy for her, something that never made sense to me, but it was cool to hear her talk about her exploits, the guy she met who had “so much rhythm.” As I always feel, it was cool to hear her express her love for dancing to the Bee Gees. At first I’d cringe when she’d put on one of their disco-era records and begin dancing, but eventually her love for the music—and the brothers’ love for making that music—won me over. Thanks for reminding us how to care during the Me Generation, Robin, Maurice, Barry, and now and then even Andy.

A few oddities follow

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May 172012

"It's got a steady beat and Seth could drum to it."

It’s a shame that Donna Summer died from cancer today at 63 years old. It’s a shame that just about anyone ever dies. She was a major figure in the music world when I was a teenager. She was the undisputed Disco Queen. A part of my youth has died. However, I couldn’t stand the music of Donna Summer.

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Oct 272011

Someone asked me recently, “Mr. Moderator, if there was one thing you could do to make Rock Town Hall even better than it already is, what would that one thing be?”

Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’ve been thinking about this question for the last few days. As great as this place is, who says we can’t make it even better? Today I believe I have settled on an answer: We need a few Townspeople who know a shitload about any of the following bands to step forward and make their mark.

Sure, I want facts, but I also want a sense of your passion for any of these bands. I had no idea any of these bands existed, but they stumbling on the following Birth Control performance had led me down a rabbit hole of obscure hard-rockin’ bands representing fans with lifestyles I can barely imagine. I want to get to know these people. Check out the ancient worlds I have unconvered:

First, Birth Control, a band that seems to have captured the essence of Eric Burdon‘s psychedelicized Peace Warrior ravings and mixed in Krautrock and the heavy organ noodlings of Deep Purple. I know you’re gonna want to clap your hands when this number gets going!

Next up is Epitaph


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