May 312013


Look at what I just stumbled across! This was the moment leading up to the moment detailed in this old post, which originally ran on March 7, 2007. Listen to how excited the crowd was. Listen to all those Philly kids with their distinctive shouts of “Yeah!” You cannot, however, hear my friends and I scratching our heads as this went on (and on and on).

With the recent buzz over the reunited Police, it took me a few seconds to register the news that Genesis had announced a reunion tour. If you’re not old enough to remember the band that preceded Mike + the Mechanics, check out this quote from the press release:

“Genesis is absolutely one of the world’s most exciting bands of all time,” said Michael Cohl, tour promoter. “They have always been an amazing concert experience and I’m thrilled that fans will be able to see them perform again live for the first time in 15 years.”

Absolutely! Townsman Andyr and I saw Genesis’ Light Show at the band’s commercial peak, in 1983, at Philadelphia’s long-gone JFK Stadium. We went to see the opening acts, Elvis Costello & the Attractions (hot off the release of Imperial Bedroom) and Blondie before them. JFK was enormous – a bare-bones, old-school oval football stadium that held 100,000. The place dwarfed Blondie, but not so much that we couldn’t clearly see an ongoing hissy fit between keyboardist Jimmy Destri and drummer Clem Burke escalate until Burke took off a cymbal and flung it at Destri, Frisbie style!
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May 252013
Sounds of the Hall in roughly 33 1/3 minutes!

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

Between the years 1980 and 1986, Phil Collins put out 3 studio albums while Genesis put out 4. Too much!? As discussed in an earlier post, a little Genesis goes a long way. I think the same applies to Phil Collins’ early ’80s output. I never latched on at the time and still to this day he doesn’t do a whole lot for me…until now.

In this episode, I will present a worthy Phil Collins song along with some other famous Collins’ from the worlds of blues, folk-rock, rockabilly, new wave, power pop, and funk.

Full Collins

[Note: You can add Saturday Night Shut-In episodes to your iTunes by clicking here. The Rock Town Hall feed will enable you to easily download Saturday Night Shut-In episodes to your digital music player.]

Concerned with evil

Concerned with evil

Doesn't care anymore

Doesn’t care anymore


May 152013

Hey, I gotta hit and run here, people — seriously, my time is not my own these days. But I do have a question: should I try to like Genesis more?

That’s not a snarky question. Sgt Peppermint Petty suggested I might be able to appreciate Genesis — more than I like Yes, for example. We got to rappin’ about Yes versus Genesis, and things got deep. I heard about penetrating vocals, ringing bass tones, jazz chops and, yes, polished golden orbs. It all sounded kinda mystical to me. I think the Sarge had been hitting the ol’ skull bong in the men’s room or something.

Anyway, he’s a good egg, and I know he meant well. Who knows, he might be right. I might be able to grant Genesis a prog hall pass. When I was 14, I used to like Emerson, Lake & Palmer — and I used to dig my old man’s copy of Lark’s Tongues In Aspic.

So my question is two fold: to those of you who know me — am I capable of liking Genesis? And to the rest of you, and all those who think I might grow to like them, I ask sincerely: where should I start trying? Oh, and one more question: does the fact that I really like this Genesis song set me up for Genesis disappointment?

I look forward to your responses.


Jan 202011

Guilty of one too many ding-a-lings?

We know there is a solid history of nonsense syllables in popular music, from Mairseydotes and Ragmop to Ob-La-Di and De Doo Doo Doo. Some of this usage is intentional or wordplay, but some of it is basically lazy lyric writing by a composer, who can’t seem to find better words to replace the ones that were ad-libbed.

On this front, is there any greater offender than Phil Collins? I know that ABACAB is a reference to musical structure, but let’s dispense with that lame defense because ABACAB is not a word. What is a “Paperlate” and a “Sussudio?”

I recall an interview with Paddy MacAloon, the man behind Prefab Sprout. He relayed a conversation he had with Paul McCartney about the song, “The King Of Rock and Roll,” which has the chorus lyric: “Hot dog, jumping frog, Albuquerque,” which is really intended to be a parody of mindless pop song lyrics. The irony was that this was Sprout’s big hit, thus McCartney told MacAloon that the song was his “My Ding-A-Ling” and that every songwriter gets to have one “My Ding-A-Ling.”

Thus, Phil Collins, in writing at least three nonsense songs, has vastly overshot his “My Ding-A-Ling” quota, which I believe is grounds for charging him with a Rock Crime, and surely he’s guilty of others. But the Cocteau Twins aside, is there anybody more guilty of lazy, nonsense, my-dingalinging than Phil Collins?

Jan 082011


In tonight’s edition of Saturday Night Shut-In, Mr. Moderator will try to make sense of the two Peter Gabriel—era Genesis albums that he owns, Foxtrot and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, telling the tale of his first experience with “Supper’s Ready” and long nights spent flying on the wings of Pegasus. Won’t you join him on this journey? Sadly, our phone system is still down following last week’s chat with former Apple Electronics head and Magic Alex, so Mr. Moderator will not be able to take your calls. Your comments through this journey of discovery and understanding are welcome.

[audio:|titles=RTH Saturday Night Shut-In, episode 10]

[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 each week’s podcast.]

Jan 072011

See if you can’t invest 9 minutes and 39 seconds in this clip of “classic”-era Genesis and explain to me what motivated Peter Gabriel? I mean, what is at the heart of the music he made with Genesis? What was he trying to communicate? He put a lot of energy into whatever it was he wanted to get across, but his message or general worldview fails to reach me. Did he do a better job of communicating whatever he wanted to communicate on his solo records? He’s sold millions of records worldwide as both a band leader and solo artist, so surely one of you has gotten what he’s going on about. Please explain. Thank you.

Oct 042010

John Wetton: yet another good egg enters the Halls of Rock

Following a tosssed-off aside in a recent analysis/appreciation of a Lark’s Tongue in Aspic-era King Crimson performance an immediate groundswell of support gathered around the previously inconceivable notion that John Wetton (Asia, King Crimson, Roxy Music, UK, Family, Uriah Heep, and much more) was the Sexiest Man in Prog-Rock.

To clarify, it’s not that Wetton’s good looks had previously been inconceivable but that good looks ever played a part in the brainy, challenging progressive rock scene. In the wake of this discussion Townspeople were polled, and between the results of nearly 1000 voters and a panel of rock experts, Wetton was officially deemed – once and for allThe Sexiest Man in Prog-Rock.

That’s the silly part of the story. We managed to contact Wetton for his thoughts on this distinction (“I’m delighted to be deemed a cute pig in the litter,” he replied). Better yet, he agreed to an interview with us. It’s the following interview, one focusing on his musical experiences rather than beauty tips, that’s the most appreciated thing to come from a silly notion and an unexpected encounter with Wetton and a broad swath of prog-rock fans.

As you probably know, if this is even your second day in the Halls of Rock, Rock Town Hall regulars tend to be deeply immersed in the music we’ve lived through. Musicians like Wetton, whose careers have woven through a broad swath of rock history, can be especially enticing as interview subject. We spend more time than the average person contemplating Rock’s Big Issues, and who better to hear from than musicians who’ve straddled eras, genres, and band responsibilities? In the following interview, John Wetton provides insight on these issues and displays an enthusiasm for and confidence in his musical ventures and colleagues that I found refreshing. I hope you do, too.

RTH: How is your health, John, and what are you working on these days? Did I read correctly that been at work on projects with both Asia and Eddie Jobson?

John Wetton: My health is good, thank you—having survived (with enormous help on both counts) two life-threatening conditions, I’m being a little more circumspect, but still have a lust for life and a desire to enjoy the journey, regardless of the destination. I’ve just completed 50 dates with Asia–in Europe, USA and Japan—we complete the world touring for 2010 with a 5-date UK tour before Christmas.

I played 3 dates in Poland with Eddie Jobson last November, “for old times’ sake.” It was generally regarded as a UK reunion and was great fun, but we have no plans to extend that run right now. It was a terrific band–myself, Eddie, Marco Minneman, Tony Levin, and Greg Howe.

[NOTE: Mogul Thrash would spawn not only Wetton but two the founding members of Average White Band, which Townspeople also know as the band that gave us RTH hero Hamish Stuart.]

RTH: Your career must be a dream for writer Pete Frame and his Rock Family Tree books. The earliest band I knew of that you were in was Family, but I learned that you were in an earlier band that recorded an album, Mogul Thrash. The music sounds in the jazz-rock vein of Soft Machine and Colosseum. Prior to Mogul Thrash, were you already rooted in jazz and improvisatory music?

JW: I guess my name would have cropped up on many of Pete’s Family trees, but I did most of my band-hopping in the ’70s—since then I’ve done side projects, but the bulk of my work has been either with Asia or as a solo artist.

Jazz was never really an influence until I was in my early 20s, when I started to listen to some fantastic players–John McLaughlin, Miroslav Vitous, Herbie Hancock. My huge early musical influence from around age 5, was my brother, a church organist and choirmaster. Piano is my first instrument.

RTH: At the same time, you’ve also displayed a strong pop sense through your career. As a boy, were you more a Beatles or Stones fan?


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