I check in on the ESPN cultural offshoot site Grantland on a regular basis. I don’t always agree with their writers’ points of view and I often find their pieces even more ponderous and self-involved than stuff I like to read and write, but I much prefer reading overwrought articles on subjects like sports and the arts than the short, publicist-driven blurbs that fill up too much of the media. Last week Grantland waived a tempting piece in my face:
Ok, so every time I hear Steely Dan on the radio, I immediately think of Bond’s Mr. Wint & Mr. Kidd. Maybe part of the reason is that I don’t really know the “Band” — Fagen and Decker — other than small snatches I’ve seen of them — but their legend looms large in my mind.
On the surface, this is a band that I should not like a wit. Jazz Fusion! Studio musicians!! Odd vocal stylings. What gives?? Yet — although I don’t OWN any SD — I like them when I hear them. And the solo for “Reelin’ in the Years” by said studio axeman is one of my all-time faves.
By looming large, I mean I picture a studio teeming with ’70s excesses — women in jumpsuits, coke, shag carpeting, etc.
So I probably won’t be downloading and Steely Dan for the old iPod. But if I’m ever at some cool party, chock-full of modern, Eames-inspired furniture, and this is coming out of the Blaupunkt’s, I’ll nod my head and say, Yes…I can live with this.
I know most bands have a persona that is larger than life. But did Steely Dan ever try to cultivate it the way that, say Zeppelin did?
Should I break down and buy this band? Help …
I am by no means the Hall’s expert on Kevin Ayers, but since he died recently and he is of interest to a few of my favorite Townspeople, relatively new and old, and since these very same folks have been chipping in their memories of enjoying the man’s music, let me open up a formal discussion for the benefit of those of you who know almost nothing about the guy and, even more so, for my own education.
I first came across Ayers in college through 2 sources. First, there was that June 1, 1974 album, which I hungrily borrowed from a friend for the chance to hear Eno, John Cale, and Nico in a band with Mike Oldfield (whose music I only knew through sneaking into my first R-rated movie, The Exorcist) and this Ayers guy, about whom I knew nothing. The album was OK, as I spun it over the next few days, trying like mad to get high enough to feel like it was great, but I returned it to my friend and never felt tempted to buy it for myself.
Next, over the last few weeks of my freshman year, I became friends with this tall, geeky, super-underground weirdo-prog guy, John. We initially bonded over artists like Captain Beefheart, the Velvet Underground, psychedelic Beatles, and King Crimson, the last of whom I’d recently been introduced to by another friend. He took this as a sign that I may be ready for exploring the deeper hippie-prog territory he specialized in, stuff like Henry Cow, Van Der Graaf Generator, and Gong. I wasn’t thrilled about all of those underground prog bands, but it was cool to hear new stuff and try to get a handle on this proto-Thurston Moore look-alike I’d suddenly befriended.
Townsman machinery ran a similar thread not too long ago on strange sounds on records. Bachman Turner Overdrive’s awesome lunkhead anthem “Taking Care of Business” came on the radio this morning and I couldn’t help but dig it. At the 47-second mark, when they sing “And if you take your time you can get to work by 9…” some low, fluttering sound enters the mix. Real simple question: What’s that sound?
While that song is fresh in mind, is there a better lunkhead anthem than “Taking Care of Business”? To be fair, it’s probably not fair to characterize the song as being targeted at lunkheads, which the Urban Dictionary so sensitively defines as, “A very inoffensive, PG way of calling somebody a fucking retard.” But the spirit of the song goes deeper than “down to earth.” I don’t know about you, but when I hear “Taking Care of Business” I get in touch with my inner lunkhead. That can be a good thing.
If we were to construct a 12-song compilation album entitled Lunkhead Anthems, what other 11 songs would best serve the need we all have, now and then, to get in touch with our inner lunkhead?
QUICK: Do you know who Randy “Xeno” Hogan is? No Googling; you might land on his Wikipedia page. Continue reading »
Here’s the latest Bjork video:
Hey, I was really into Bjork’s first few albums and continue to think that the later Vespertine is beautiful. But her work after 2001 has become weirder and weirder. I blame it on Matthew Barney, her paramour since about that time. I’m often willing to give odd visual artists a high-five or just a pass, but Matthew Barney’s work is just plain pretentious. (The dude is best known for his art film series, The Cremaster Cycle. Naming many, many hours of film after a muscle that controls testicular contractions just about says it all.)
Please, someone help me find something good to say about Bjork’s increasingly non-Human Behavior.