Mar 052012

The Final Four in Rock’s Greatest Back Band Tournament poses the question, “Is it time to jump to the Finals?”

Consider the remaining matches:

  • The Crickets vs The JBs
  • Crazy Horse vs The Attractions

Is there any doubt that The JBs and The Attractions will face off to determine—once and for all—rock’s greatest backing band? Is there any point in holding this round of play?

The JBs think there is, if only to prove their dominance. They have thrown down the following challenge: If fan voting for The Crickets and Crazy Horse combined beats the total votes received for The JBs, The JBs will concede defeat. In a show of solidarity The Attractions have announced that they will do likewise.

So there you have it. Cast your votes for the Clear Favorites (The JBs and The Attractions), The Underdogs (The Crickets and Crazy Horse), or any combination thereof. Let the games begin! (Voting runs through March 8th at 11:59 pm.)

The Final Four: The Crickets vs The JBs and Crazy Horse vs The Attractions

  • The Clear Favorites (The JBs and The Attractions) (62%, 21 Votes)
  • The Underdogs (The Crickets and Crazy Horse) (18%, 6 Votes)
  • The JBs and Crazy Horse (18%, 6 Votes)
  • The Crickets and The Attractions (3%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 34

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Feb 222012

Rock Squat!

I’ve been sitting on this Rock Town Hall Glossary entry for some time. As the following video clip that alexmagic posted in a recent thread as evidence of Crazy Horse‘s complete lack of “schau” (Lach Schau?) demonstrates, maybe the definition is right in front of our eyes.

The Thick-Thighed Rock Squat, or Snuffaluffagus, as practiced by Neil Young and his mates in Crazy Horse; Shane Fontayne, that Lone Justice/post-E Street Band Springsteen guitarist; and countless middle-aged, weekend warrior bar band guitarists feeling a bit uncomfortable about the act of performing in front of people while sporting a youth-defying gut and ill-fitting jeans, is an awkward, self-conscious form of “hunkering down” during solos and other key instrumental sections.

In contrast to more self-absorbed rock guitarists’ glamorous windmills, leaps, scissor kicks, thrusts, and general crucifixations, the humble guitarist expresses thanks and praise to The Power & Glory of Rock ‘n Roll through the Rock Squat. In terms of Major League Baseball’s World Series final pitch celebrations it’s the difference between Tug McGraw‘s Reach for the Heavens Leap after through the final strike in the 1980 World Series and Brad Lidge‘s I Am Humbled by the Magnitude of This Occasion Drop to the Knees in 2008.

Dual Rock Squat!

The Rock Squat’s most endearing, emotionally charged, and manly formation is the Full-Band Rock Squat, which you can see Neil and hit mates entering on the cover of Year of the Horse. There’s nothing like seeing the Horse lumber around like mastadons! You can see how, in rock stage presence developmental history, the Full-Band Squat is a stone’s throw to Rock ‘n Roll Iwo Jima.

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Feb 212012

Crazy Horse vs The Spiders From Mars!

As we progress through the Semifinals round of our tournament to determine—once and for all—rock’s greatest backing band ever, the Classic Conference comes down to a battle between Crazy Horse and The Spiders From Mars. The winner of this match will face the upcoming Rebel Conference champs.

Through the long, painstaking course of this tournament adequate arguments have been made on behalf of all the semifinalists. That doesn’t mean you’re not encouraged to continue arguing for your selection in this round, but you are welcome to cast your vote now. Voting in this match will run through 11:59 pm on Thursday, February February 23, 2012.

Semifinals, Classic Conference: Crazy Horse vs The Spiders From Mars.

  • Crazy Horse (55%, 28 Votes)
  • The Spiders From Mars (45%, 23 Votes)

Total Voters: 51

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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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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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Feb 212011

Sshh...Be vewwy vewwy quiet...

I’ve been noticing songs played in places more than usual for some reason, and in particular the songs that jump out and make me think, “Who programmed this? And why did they do it? Is this some kind of joke?” It’s not so much that I hear songs that I haven’t heard in a long time, or just seldom hear, but it’s songs that seem to fit into the overall scheme of what’s happening, but just seem a little obscure to be anything but a nod to a possible Music Nerd in the audience.

For a case in point, I’m in Columbia, South Carolina the other day at IHOP, and all of a sudden The English Beat’s “Mirror in the Bathroom” is on. I’m thinking, “Wow – this is pretty cool. One of those Songs in the Wild Sightings I’ve been noticing, but then they play “Rock Lobster” and a whole slew of quirky early ’80s songs and I know this is a theme, and not an actual rare sighting. The real rare sightings are the ones that probably fade into nothing unless a Music Nerd is there to see it, like the first song that had me thinking about this a few weeks ago.

We were at Tuesday Morning (some store that sells overstocks and buyouts, I think) and all they play are the country hits of the day, but after a little bit I hear Neil Young’s “Cripple Creek Ferry” and I know this is a true sighting, because it’s so short that it’s almost subliminal in that the only reason the programmer tossed it in was in the hopes that someone, somewhere, might know that this guy is just doing his job and he hates that crap as much as any reasonable Music nerd would. That piqued my interest, and I mush admit I have been paying more attention in stores and restaurants lately (I think my wife thinks I’m ignoring her, but I’m actually working here!). I was in a place call Charming Charlie’s (if you’re male, never go there – it’s awful) and they play horrid dance music really loud. But all of a sudden, blasting out loudly, comes the worst Jam song ever. Yeah, they actually played “Beat Surrender.”  They went straight back to pop tartlets and pretty adolescent boys after that, and I had to admit, for a minute, my least liked Jam song actually didn’t sound so bad!

I really don’t see or hear this stuff often, and what reminded me I wanted to write about it here was a few days ago when I was getting gas and the gas station was playing NRBQ’s “Ridin’ in My Car.” I thought it was like when I heard “Mirror in the Bathroom,” but this was a true sighting. The next songs had nothing to do with cars and were the usual prattlings of Taylor Swift and Toby Keith. I felt really fortunate to hear that little NRBQ song. It’s usually a fake out, and part of a theme, but catching a true Song in the Wild is pretty rewarding. Bird watchers may be on to something. What sightings have you had lately?


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