Jun 192012
 

I’ve always been on the fence concerning the Mod or Rocker schism. I do love my Eddie Cochran and Link Wray, but I also love my natty attire, Small Faces, The Creation, and The Action.

[audio:https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/07-Brain-1.mp3|titles=The Action: Brain] [audio:https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/01-Come-Around-1.mp3|titles=The Action: Come Around]

So, I’m not going to give a Wikipedia-style account of The Action here. Let’s just let them be the soundtrack for an inquiry.

Certainly, the Mods vs. Rockers clashes of the ’60s were overemphasized, and it’s not like they even mattered over here. Is it even a valid argument anymore, or did Ringo do away with the question in his famous Hard Day’s Night quip?

[audio:https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/02-Something-To-Say.mp3|titles=The Action: Something to Say] [audio:https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/02-In-My-Lonely-Room.mp3|titles=The Action: In My Lonely Room]

It comes down to a question of the importance of subculture and semiotics: the expressive forms and rituals of our groupings, be they mods, rockers, punks, skinheads, Portland-types, or Brooklyn-types.

This is superficial stuff, to be sure. We become intrigued by the mundane objects—an R.A.F. roundel, motorcycle boots, a safety pin, a flannel shirt—which nonetheless take on a symbolic dimension, and also grant us something of a self-imposed exile.

I don’t give a fuck so much, but there was a time when it was a serious rock-existential dilemma for me: “Wait, can I have a mod target, and love Gene Vincent? Can you do that?” Can I, to bring it up to the present day, dress like Jimmy in Quadrophenia and still be caught dead at Rock of Ages?

[audio:https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/07-Just-Once-In-My-Life.mp3|titles=The Action: Just Once in My Life] [audio:https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/10-Since-I-Lost-My-Baby.mp3|titles=The Action: Since I Lost My Baby]

In this context, the music we listen to serves as entertainment, diversion, and relevance, yes, but we also identify, adopting the sounds and their singers as signifiers to help us discover “where do I fit in?”

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Aug 152008
 


It’s hard to believe we’re halfway through the 2008 Summer Olympics and I have not posted my thoughts on Olympic Rock. Some of you may be familiar with this concept: it’s long been my belief that there are certain genres of music that are best judged by the musicians’ ability to hit certain standards, they way gymnasts and divers are scored, for instance. Established forms of Olympic music on which we might agree include rock cover bands as well as their predecessors, Classical music cover bands. In the case of a KISS cover band, for instance, the musicians are judged according to their ability to play the music of KISS as closely to the original studio (and in the case of some KISS tunes, I would presume, live album) versions as possible while also hitting the high, well-defined standards for each KISS member’s Look, gear, stage banter, and chest hair. A first-rate KISS cover band is expected to fit snuggly into the shadows of the masters themselves.


Some genres of rock ‘n roll, I would argue, are “Olympic” in nature. The clearest example of Olympic Rock may be found in Rockabilly. Nothing original is required in Rockabilly; in fact, it might be argued that nothing original is desired. A good Rockabilly band depends on hot licks, hot chicks, hot rods, smokin’ tone, cool threads, long sideburns, and high-stacked pompadours. A great Rockabilly band depends on all those things but done to perfection! And maybe the bassist is really good at riding his standup bass at key points in a performance. Rockabilly judges watch intently, with tattooed arms folded, to ensure that the guitarist is playing the solo in Billy Lee Riley‘s “Trouble Bound” EXACTLY as Roland Janes intended it to be played when he first perfected his licks in some shotgun shack.

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Apr 042007
 

When the desultory video performance of “Girls Talk” was running on this site last week, some people mentioned that they were unfamiliar with Dave Edmunds’ work and would appreciate a selection of Edmunds tracks. I offered my services, since I have all of the Rockpile-era Edmunds albums in versions transferred from my old LPs and Mr. Mod was busy with moderating.

Right before this era, Edmunds was focusing on letter-perfect recreations of earlier styles — Phil Spector, Sun Sessions, Chuck Berry, etc. – on the album Subtle As A Flying Mallet. But Edmunds had produced the last Brinsley Schwarz album, and he started working with Nick Lowe again on his next album Get It. The first 8 tracks on this selection are from that album.

The opening tack is the Bob Seger nugget “Get Out Of Denver”, and the album is a mix of old and new songs. Nick Lowe fans will recognize “I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock ‘n Roll”, but the record also features two fine Lowe-Edmunds originals – “Here Comes the Weekend” and the lovely “Little Darlin’”. Edmunds was always more of a traditionalist than Lowe (Graham Parker’s “Back To Schooldays” gets a nice rockabilly treatment here), but “Little Darlin’” shows the “pure pop” side of the Edmunds-Lowe collaboration.

Also from Get It:
“Worn out Suits, Brand New Pockets”
“Ju Ju Man”
“Git It”
Continue reading »

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