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!

Nov 292011

Anakin Skywalker never had a chance. Fawned over and treated as something special since a child, he became a somewhat churlish and petty, albeit supremely talented, young man who was vulnerable to the seductive promises of an older and evil mentor. Sure, we were led to believe that Anakin was merely trying to save his wife, but we know the truth—he sold out his principles for wealth, power, and the cool black uniforms and helmets that became his daily garb. So what if it cost a few limbs, most of his skin, and an internal organ or two? It was worth it—he was a superstar for the Dark Side and the ride was great for a while. Stuff like this happens to rock stars too…

Sep 232011

Relevant or just plain good?

Now try this:Irrelevant or just plain shitty?

Although I certainly agree with the general gist of Machinery’s REM thread, and would, myself, add at least 10 years to his over-generous assessment of REM’s breakup being “15 years too late,” I think that framing such a discussion around  “relevance” is a mistake. No performer is going to remain relevant forever. Some great performers do not attain relevance while they are active, even. Relevance is largely irrelevant. What matters is the quality of the work. REM’s work after, let’s be generous here, Document may be more relevant than what came before, or it may be less relevant. I have no idea. Perhaps many people find “Everybody Poops”–er, “Hurts”–to be far more relevant than “Radio Free Europe.” I suppose there is nothing preventing a mawkish, bathetic, and dull-as-dirt song from being relevant to people.

Since of course the Stones have been mentioned, the problem with their post-Tattoo You (say) records is not irrelevance, it is shittiness. You might say that the two are related, but in all fairness, the best Stones record ever was not going to make them relevant in 1990.

Let’s try this exercise again:

Continue reading »

Jul 262011

A while ago I got flamed for my support of the Live at Glassgow version of Paul McCartney‘s “Coming Up” being the better version (over the one-man band take), but you guys were up in arms over my support of the Wings Over America version of “Maybe I’m Amazed.” Truth is Faces did the best version of this song, IMO.

Last month there was a contest to see who could do the best cover of this song. (Damn, I wish I’d had time to put my version together for submission!)

Here’s the deal: Paul needs the Hall’s help in selecting a winner. Visit Paul’s YouTube page to judge the entrants for yourself. Share your favorite links to specific videos and your comments in this thread. Paul’s reading. He cares about what you have to say.

And remember: If you can’t say anything nice

Feb 082009

This video is appalling on multiple levels.


The pointlessly rural setting, the various Look crimes – the beret, the overalls, the visor, the aviator shades, the peroxide – the objectification of women’s body parts, the exploitation of poor people, Rod’s preening and prancing… I could go on.

This style of Stonesy rock is what Rod had been successfully purveying with the Faces, but here it’s been perfected to death. It’s now drained of whatever vitality it once had and turned into a coked-out rock star nightmare. I hate everything about it.


I absolutely LOVE that guitar riff that comes in after Rod shrieks “I love ya, honay!” (first appearance at about 1:23). A two-chord riff with one repeat, it’s perfect in its simplicity, even it is a bit too Les-Paul-through-a-Marshall-amp. It just works.

Of course it’s immediately undercut by that dull, thudding drum fill from whichever Appice brother that is, but this little hint that Rod still knows what he’s doing confuses me. Does it almost redeem the song, or does it make the whole thing even more embarrassing by highlighting all that he’s thrown away?

Anyway, do you have a song or an album you basically despise which still has some feature or aspect you grudgingly love?

Sep 052008

Here’s a FRIDAY FLASHBACK! topic from way back that might be worth extending with the input of our newer Townspeople. In the Comments for this post you’ll see that Hrrundivbakshi suggested an offshoot thread that’s also still worth exploring. The KISS Army Reunion referred to, by the way, was a pretty major event in early Rock Town Hall history. It may be worth seeking out that mid-February 2007 series of posts.

This post initially appeared 2/16/07.

Enthusiasm for the KISS Reunion has spilled over to the parking lot here at the Valley Forge Convention Center, so keep those KISS comments coming. Something posted by Townsman hrrundivbakshi, however, caught my eye and warrants a discussion of its own. It has to do with the adolescent rock conspiracy theories that only a teen rock fan’s mind can get its, er, head around for a short time. In case you missed the comment, here it is:

Speaking of bands actually being other bands, I must share one of the funnier/stupider young teen music rumors that me and my friends all believed for a while: that Van Halen were actually KISS without the makeup. It was so obvious, from the backstory (Gene “discovered” Van Halen in a bar in California… yeah, *right*) to the revealing photos on the inner sleeve of VH’s first album. I mean, look at that picture of Michael Anthony scowling with demonic intensity! And you can’t tell me that happy-go-lucky photo of “Alex Van Halen” doesn’t capture the essence of the Cat Man! Now, “Eddie,” he’s, uh, Paul Stanley ’cause of the hair… though it’s funny that Paul didn’t play lead guitar in KISS… hm… I guess — I guess that leaves Ace. Ace is, uh, this David Lee Roth guy, I guess. Funny how he must have a completely secret life/talent set… you know, to be the lead singer and everything. Still, he’s a *rock star*, so, you know, anything is possible. Right?

This fantasy lasted about 3 days before we moved on to the next bizarro adolescent conspiracy theory.

There are rock’s legendary conspiracy theories – Paul being dead, the Elton John/Rod Stewart stomach pumping – but I’m curious to know about the adolescent rock conspiracy theories that you grew up with, even those that only lasted a few days.


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