Aug 272020

Here’s a topic I have been thinking about for years, but that may never have made it to the Main Stage. I guess I’ve been thinking about this since Rock Town Hall first fizzled away.

KISS‘ “Hard Luck Woman” is such an obvious pastiche of mid-’70s Rod Stewart that it’s a wonder that Rod never covered it. (Or has he?) Some of you may recall how much I personally despise KISS, but I have to give it to them: they were rock solid as Rod Stewart imitators.

What’s the first thing anyone of my generation thought when first hearing the Stealer’s Wheel song “Stuck in the Middle With You”?

New Dylan tune? Cool!

Bob’s a proud man, but he’s got a devilish sense of humor. How has he gone all these years without covering that song? (Or has he?)

And here’s the tune that has most had me thinking about this topic for the last few years: David Bowie‘s “Diamond Dogs.” Maybe it was 5 years ago when it came on and I thought to myself, That is the greatest song the Exile-era Stones never recorded!

Can you hear it as a swaggering Stones song, with Jagger sashaying and laying into the word “brooch” the way Bowie so expertly does*; Mick Taylor and Keef doing their thing; E Pluribus Gergely‘s favorite saxophonist, Bobby Keys, honking away? Ever since that day the thought occurred to me, that’s all I can hear. Well, that and the way Bowie sings brooch. And the cool This ain’t rock ‘n roll; this is genocide intro.

So here’s my assignment:

Starting with the 3 songs I’ve noted (and dispute those nominations if you must), what would make the greatest collection of covers of pastiche songs by the original artists being imitated? Imagine, a revitalized, coke-and-brandy fueled Rod the Mod singing “Hard Luck Woman.” Bob Dylan and his most crack modern-day band rambling through “Stuck in the Middle With You.” The Rolling Fucking Stones coming back for just one more album and world tour, featuring their version of “Diamond Dogs.” Hell, the Stones promise 2000 Man a seat on the tour bus!

*Brooch is probably my favorite word in the English language, or at least a close second to penultimate, on the basis of the way Bowie pronounces it in “Diamond Dogs.” Somehow, Bowie made it sound dirty!

Apr 102014

Yesterday, on the eve of KISS‘ induction into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, I learned that Lou Reed cowrote a song for the band’s Bob Ezrin-produced concept album, The Elder. Certainly, upon the completion of this recording, Lou must have remarked that KISS and his Berlin producer captured his music the way it was meant to sound!

Oct 162013


Please list this year’s nominees for inclusion in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the order in which you think they should be included. If you don’t have the patience or interest in listing them all, please just list the top 5.

And the nominees are…

Nirvana, Kiss, the Replacements, Hall and Oates, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, Deep Purple, Peter Gabriel, LL Cool J, N.W.A., Link Wray, the Meters, Linda Ronstadt, Cat Stevens, Yes, and the Zombies.

Nov 212011

"You had me at Dick Clark as Hitler."

Once a year I try to listen to my lone Devo album, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! I want to love it. I begin to chuckle over it before I even drop the needle. Once I do, however, musically there’s not enough there for me to care about, no matter how much I try. I inevitably skip ahead to get my requisite laughs out of the song “Jocko Homo” before logging onto YouTube to marvel at their videos. Devo videos are amazing!

As an impressionable college freshman I got into The Residents. I bought Third Reich ‘n Roll and Meet the Residents as soon as I saw the album covers, without ever hearing a note of the band’s music. (Actually, come to think of it, I stole both records before ever hearing a note of the band’s music, but that’s a long story I might have shared once and I will probably share once more in the future…) The Residents’ album covers and concepts are amazing! I dig their “classic” albums enough to actually feel compelled to rank their musical output and cite “turning points” in their development, but without the record covers and overriding concepts, what would be the point of ever listening to The Residents? Without the medium of the 12-inch vinyl album cover could The Residents have ever existed? I don’t think so. What 18-year-old kid is going to log into the iTunes Store to sample and download a Residents album?

I’ve never liked KISS, but I’ve got to give them credit for their visual appeal. Sans makeup and pyrotechnics would KISS have been anything more than a “1-hit wonder” like Brownsville Station?

What artists are you attracted to primarily for their visual appeal, even long after you’ve bought and dug their records?

Previously: Music That’s Better With the Sound Turned Off: Devo

Oct 032011

My neighbor's wife.

In a recent LA Weekly interview Paul Stanley, reported “good egg” and at one time the only member of KISS who it could be said did not need shamefully hide his face under a multicolored coat of greasepaint, explains the band’s long-running popularity:

I don’t necessarily want to buy a t-shirt with a guy on it who looks like my neighbor.

The 2 hours it took to apply the greasepoint is optional ever since the band first “unmasked” itself in the 1980s. Looking at Paul today, one is more likely to wonder, “Maybe it’s Maybelline.”

Jul 232011

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

This week’s edition of Saturday Night Shut-In seamlessly ties back to the previous week’s topics for discussion. It’s remarkable how Mr. Moderator does it, no?

[audio:|titles=RTH Saturday Night Shut-In, episode 38]

[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 of each week’s podcast.]

Jul 212011

I’m gonna keep this simple: How on Earth can a man who will take a bullet for the right of any music lover to dumb things down once in a while hate KISS? Is it the blatant show-biz manipulativeness that turns you off? The fact that the band fooled a planet with their ridiculous makeup/monster schtick? Do you just not like music at the intersection of pop and “hard rock?” Are you turned off by their admittedly poor musicianship? Their idiotic lyrics? What is it?

Speaking for myself, the band gets a pass. I don’t “love” them — or even like them very much, if “liking” something means that you have to stand up and defend the verifiable quality of it. But they make me pump my fist, bob my head, and smile. They’re patently retarded, I get that. But only an extreme tight-ass would have a problem enjoying “Firehouse” or “Rock Bottom” or “Cold Gin” from that Alive! twofer.

I will say this: I just went out and reminded myself of the actual track list on the album, and it’s not a flawless double. In fact, I think I’d reduce it to a single-record deal. But that record would be a fun-fest for me, and for any other Rock-loving child of the ’70s who’s not afraid of donning the nostalgio-glasses every once in a while.

Come on, man! Loosen up a little! Switch to boxers or something!

Your pal,



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