Dec 242015

Flunk Punks “Guitar Tech” Paul Shields, with THE INFAMOUS YAMAHA DT 175 IN THE BACKGROUND!

Happy holidays, Rock Town Hall members and hangers-on!

As has become a bit of a tradition ’round these parts, on this festive day of the year, I present you with the annual telling of my greatest moment of rock embarrassment — namely, the story of The Day I Rode My Motorcycle On-stage at School Assembly and Proceeded to Suck Mightily. This year, however…there’s more!

First of all, there are pictures to share, culled from dusty old photo albums–including, as you’ll see above, a picture of the actual motorcycle! I wish I had pictures of all the members of the “band,” but there seem to be just a few in my possession. Perhaps more illuminating, I’ve managed to gather a few recollections of the event from other members of the Flunk Punks! This year, I managed to track down two: David “Bertie” Bertram and Peter Horn. Peter was characteristically taciturn about the whole affair, but Bertie remembered something I’d long since forgotten: the Flunk Punks “groupies!”

Anyway, the story proceeds below, followed by our star witnesses’ commentary. Enjoy, and–best wishes for the season, RTH!


Apr 152014
He doesn't want to make it cry or sing.

He doesn’t want to make it cry or sing.

Townsman hrrundivbakshi may want to take a seat before reading this. If there’s a fourth member of his Holy Trinity of Rock (ie, ELO, Prince, and ZZ Top), it may be AC/DC. Here goes…

Reports are flying around that the band is going to call it quits in the wake of rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young‘s recent stroke. This is sad news, obviously. Although I’ve never been a big fan of AC/DC, years of prodding by my close personal friend Townsman Sethro, finally turned me onto the genius of their economical hard rock production power. The band has good hooks to boot, that I came around to enjoying as long as I could block out either of their meathead singers. Watching their videos over the last 15 years of my semi-enlightenment regarding the band’s merits, I was always struck by the dedication and focus of Malcolm Young on rhythm guitar. He seemed to define all that is right in a dedicated rhythm guitarist. He’s the rhythm brother that John Fogerty probably wished Tom would have been, or Mark Knopfler’s would-be rhythm brother, the one who “doesn’t want to make it cry or sing.” The guy was a rhythm machine, with seemingly no need to hog the spotlight. He just kept his head bobbing, his forearms pumping, and the band chugging ahead.

I’ve never known much about how AC/DC operated. I found this passage in the story linked above especially meaningful:

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Aug 132013

Last week I was driving around and flipped the dial to my local Oldies station. Prince‘s “1999” was getting underway. That’s one of the few Prince songs I kind of like (although I don’t like it as much as Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” which always sounds to me like a better version of the same song). I decided to stop flipping and listen to the entire song, anticipating the “I’m a bigger man” character building side benefits to come.

The more I tried to throw myself into the mild enjoyment I get from “1999” the more I felt myself getting perplexed by the song’s rhythm track. People like to dance to that song, don’t they? “It’s got a lousy beat, and you can dance to it!” I imagine some kid telling Dick Clark.

I don’t dance, but I was trying to imagine what elements of the song I might let flow through my hips, if my body ever worked that way in the presence of music. The electronic drums are nothing to write home about. There’s a repeating electronic tom-tom fill that’s especially annoying. The song has very little in the way of bass. What’s at the bottom end may be some kind of synth-bass that’s triggered by the artificial, never-varying drum beat. What in “1999” makes people feel like dancing? Is the rhythmic interplay of the funk guitars and the vocals enough? Is this how people dance to forms of folk music completely lacking drums and bass?

Following “1999” was a song that I can easily imagine dancing to, The Rolling Stones‘ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” I focused on the drum-and-bass parts. Charlie Watts barely varies his simple kick-snare pattern. The bass is cool, moving all around that simple drum part. The maracas are outstanding. If I were capable of dancing, this is the kind of song that would draw me to the dance floor. Is it because the drums, however invariable, are real? Is it because the bass adds variety? Is it because the maracas are so outstanding?

Aug 102013
Group shot of World Texas Tour road crew.

Group shot of World Texas Tour road crew.

You may recall a series of Bullshit On threads doubting tales of ZZ Top touring with longhorn steer, bison, vultures, goats, barnyard cats, and rattlesnakes onstage. The continuing quest to validate ZZ Top’s purported onstage livestock display for its 1976 Worldwide Texas Tour has taken a baby step forward with the following photo, provided by Townsman jungleland2. Let’s see who’s willing to shoot down the veracity of the flying bison pictured behind the band! Undeniable evidence…after the jump!

Mar 132013

Mad props! Much love and congrats to a founding Townsman who’s wife has given birth to their first baby girl! I can’t believe all the time we spend shooting the breeze over important topics like ELO, Prince, and ZZ Top, yet I had no idea (or memory, most likely, considering all the brain space I tend to use contemplating the implications of the mysterious hitchhiker hippie character in Easy Rider) of this man’s most important delivery ever! I’ll let the man spread the news and his musical aspirations for his daughter on his own time. You will be a great dad, my friend.

Feb 242013

Many of you already know that I am a fairly big fan of the works of Terence Trent D’Arby. The world needs more unapologetically pretentious pop/soul artists, and he certainly was one for the better part of the 1990s.

Anyhow, I chanced upon a listing on YouTube for a TTD video I didn’t know existed: “Dance Little Sister.” Now, I’ve always loved this song — for me, its ferocity seems to transcend the cheeseball 1980s production flourishes that come close to ruining his first album, Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby. So it’s a winner, and I eagerly clicked to watch TTD tear it up.

Boy, did I dial a wrong number! Who green-lit this stinker?! The band looks unbelievably uncool in every possible way, TTD seems to lack any interest in what he’s doing, and the “cut-to” scenes of — of what, exactly? — seem to have been flown in from a diaper commercial.

For me, this video was a major, major let-down. I know we’ve talked about “holy grail” audio pieces that have been revealed to suck upon actually hearing them for the first time; do any of you have any video let-downs as disappointing as this one?

I look forward to your responses — and I also attach a rare bit of TTD video that doesn’t suck to show you what I was hoping I’d discover, but didn’t.


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