Oct 102014

Following my initial Facebook posting of my thoughts on Neil Young last night, which became the basis of today’s brief concert review, cdm picked up on my reference to Neil’s cover of the excellent Gordon Lightfoot song “If You Can Read My Mind” and said (offlist) something to the effect of,

I’m particularly glad to hear that Neil is a fan of the ‘foot.

If I were a normal person, I would have let that comment stay on the record without comment. That’s what nice, normal people do. I’m not at least one of those two things. Instead, I said something to the effect of,

It was helpful for me to be reminded that Gordon Lightfoot actually wrote a great song. I have not understood the Genius of Lightfoot cult that’s developed over the last 15 years. “Sundown” is kind of cool, but I also grew up chuckling at it and still do. That other hit of his, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” is Blood, Sweat & Tears/Billy Joel’s sea shanty bad. What am I missing?

This led to the type of back and forth we used to come to expect in the Halls of Rock, with cdm and other FB friends posting examples of other “great” Lightfoot songs and me shooting them down with statements like,

 I don’t know, that Hokey Macho way he sings does nothing for me. It’s like the Brawny paper towels guy came to life as a singer-songwriter.

Our old friend saturnismine backed me up with a one-liner that topped anything I’d been able to articulate:

Feb 082013


This 1973 TV documentary from Canada can be diverting. Rock-A-Bye gets you up close and dirty with shaggy bands and ill-dressed record company people, as a stentorian narrator describes the Business of Rock in very serious and occasionally cynical tones.

It is pretty random. We have clips of the Rolling Stones on stage, an interview with Ronnie Hawkins, an A&R man called John David Churchill Poser, the Canadian dude from the Lovin’ Spoonful, Muddy Waters, Alice Cooper mobbed at the airport by a group of gay guys, lots of obscure Canadian bands, and extremely bad hair.

BTW the fashion in 1973 was to be as ugly as possible.

Hat tip ——–> Voices of East Anglia

More of this fascinating documentary…after the jump!

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Nov 152011

Josh Groban

I was flipping channels last night when I saw that there was going to be some Neil Young tribute on Palladia. This seemedl ike a godsend of television programming for your Philadelphia-born, sports-starved Moderator. I’d just watched the final 10 minutes of a Flyers’ hockey game (8 more minutes of hockey than I usually watch in one sitting), and the prospect of watching the Flyboys’ postgame show until I could get to the local sports-news coverage of the Jonathan Papelbon press conference was not enticing. Watching Neil Young and friends celebrate his long, interesting career was a much better option…or so I figured…

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Nov 122011

We’ve all been there at one point. Confronting someone with “oh, that band you like. They suck. No, seriously. I’m not kidding they really suck.” I can safely assume that 99.9% of Townspeople do not like the band Nickelback. I’ll go even further saying that the majority of those 99.9% use Nickelback as the Mount Everest about what is really wrong music. Even casual fans of music hate Nickelback. So much so that an online petition is circulating to replace the band as the Halftime act for the annual Detroit Lions Thanksgiving Day Game. Of course, I added my name.

But why? Where is the tangible evidence that these guys, who seem to be all around nice guys are what’s wrong with music. They’ve sold over 30 million albums. Clearly someone out there is rocking out to these hacks. For me, I think it has something to do with Chad Kroger‘s manly macho man posturing and douchey lyrics. But there’s more to that. Perhaps there is a formula out there that proves once and for all the unworthiness of these yutzes.

Are there any other bands that you’ve come across in the last 40 years that have received this much vitriol?

Oct 262011

Long considered (by myself, if no one else) perhaps England’s “most American” rocker, former Bad Company/Free vocalist Paul Rodgers was sworn in today as a Canadian citizen.  



October 26, 2011 – At a public ceremony in Surrey, B.C. last Friday October 21st  The legendary *Paul Rodgers* was sworn in as a Canadian Citizen.

A statement from Paul:

It may not be my native land but Canada is surely now my home.  While I’ll always be an Englishman, Canada has given me so much for which I am grateful.  My wife, your former Miss Canada Cynthia Kereluk, a new and extended family and the chance to be truly free in a country that with its quiet strength combines the best of so many worlds.

I’m proud to be a Canuck.

Thank you, Merci.

Paul Rodgers

I don’t know about you, but I’m hurt—and a bit pissed. Bad Co and Free were totally aimed at Americans! Any sales in the UK or Canada were a bonus. Bad Co so badly wanted to be American it wasn’t funny. I bet Rodgers was jealous of the English guys in Foreigner, who presented such a Corporate American Rock image that they could slip across our border without use of a passport. Play me one ragged Canadian chorus in any Bad Co song! Johnny didn’t travel to Toronto to become a shooting star, did he? Have you ever suspected the slightest sense of humor from any Bad Co recording? Canadians are funny, man! Everybody knows that. And what’s with the “Merci?” He’s gonna try to convince us he speaks French after 40 years touring the world with his brand of Goon Rock?

Surely Rodgers has been suffering through an identity crisis since his stirring induction speech for Bob Seger‘s entrance to Rock Town Hall’s Foyer of Fame. He thought he could replace Freddie Mercury in a reformed Queen. Wasn’t that like casting Clint Eastwood as the transvestite singer in The Crying Game? I know, Canada gave ’70s arena rockers around the world hockey sweaters, and as he mentions, he plucked his beautiful wife from their land, but still… I’m more Canadian than Rodgers. If Rodgers was going to defect he should have defected to the US of A.

Here’s hoping our Canadian correspondents will check in with their thoughts on this stunning news. I really don’t mean to take anything away from your great country. Everything Rodgers says about it is true. I just don’t like the fact that he chose you over us.

Sep 162011

Neil Young‘s “Cripple Creek Ferry” popped up on my iPod the other day. What a great, little snapshot of a song. What’s that film-making device called, when the camera pulls back and you just know the ending credits are about to roll? I love songs that serve that role, be it at the end of either side of an album (see The Undertones‘ “Casbah Rock” as another fine example of what might be a future Glossary entry).

Anyhow, as I listened to “Cripple Creek Ferry” for the first time in probably 6 months I was reminded of yet another unfulfilled rock ‘n roll dream: to record a song with what I’ll call a Ragged Canadian Chorus. Two of my main musical colleagues over the years, andyr and E. Pluribus Gergely, cringe at this approach to backing vocals. Beside the fact that they’ve shot me down whenever I’ve suggested this approach and that we don’t have the chops to pull off such deceptively casual backing vocals, we’re not Canadian.

In my mind I initially termed the loose, dragging, community-style chorus of “Cripple Creek Ferry” the Ragged Hippie Chorus, but then it occurred to me that the next two examples I had of this style were by Canadian artists: Joni Mitchell‘s “Circle Game” and almost any song on my second-favorite album of all time, The Band’s s/t sophomore triumph. It must be a Canadian thing, because when American bands try this it either sounds like shit (eg, The Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead) or is a little too smooth (anything involving JD Souther with a hand cupped over his ear). When English bands try this they sound like a bunch of paunchy guys at their local pub’s Celtic night (eg, Fairport Convention). Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The Canadians do it just right. I love how it sounds like a group of friends is hanging around in a booze-and-smoke–filled cabin, when the lead singer decides to play everyone his or her new song and then the friends casually feel motivated to sit up and join in on the chorus. I imagine lots of curly hair and denim, tightly fitting plaid shirts with 3 buttons undone, a thumb hitched in one singer’s front jeans pocket and another singer’s four fingers shoved down a tight back pocket. Fresh sensations of recent bed-hopping within the circle of friends hang in the air along with the pot smoke. The ritual cult-like effect of the Ragged Canadian Chorus is both soothing and slightly unnerving.

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