Mar 222021

Hey, gang! I just got off the phone with Milo T. Frobisher, the big cheese over at RTH Labs, and he asked me to pass this along: apparently, RTH Labs is trying to develop a set of quantitative rules/frames of reference for the analysis of how well live music is performed, depending on the age of both the performer and the audience — and the relative statistical intersection of those data cohorts.

What does this mean for you? Well, what RTH Labs needs is the year of your birth, followed by a short list of the live rock shows you’ve seen, the years you saw them, and a numerical assessment of the quality of the shows you witnessed (1-10).

Now, Frobisher acknowledges that a full accounting of all shows from all artists would be prohibitively time-consuming — and would likely result in an excess amount of non-repeating data that would be impossible to cross-tabulate across the RTH community. So what RTH Labs is looking for are data for shows performed by the following British rock dinosaur bands/artists only:

  • The Rolling Stones
  • Solo Beatles
  • The Kinks
  • Led Zeppelin
  • The Who
  • Pink Floyd

So, for example, my response would be:

  • HVB: 1964
  • Solo Beatles – Paul McCartney: 2006, 7 rock quality points (RQP); 2008, 5 RQP
  • Kinks: 1992-ish, 3 RQP
  • The Who: 1984, 5 RQP; 2007, 7 RQP

It’s that simple — unless you prefer to provide any footnotes that might shed light on your RQP assessment. (For example, I might choose to mention that Townsman Mockcarr and I were flummoxed by the Kinks’ choice to incorporate a lone dancer into their show, dressed in ballet taffeta, doing all the artsy swoops and swishes one might expect to see in a high school dance recital, as the band plunked away in the foreground. She would appear at random intervals above and behind the stage, leaping from one side to the other, a high kick here, a deft twirl there, for no discernible reason.)

Will you lend a hand? Milo assures me the data will reveal some interesting patterns worthy of further discussion.

Jul 012013

Greetings, fellow seekers of the wild, the weird, the wonderful, and the presumptively worthless! I come before you today with my usual slab of dusty vinyl scrounged from a flea market, featuring not just R&B third-stringers The Moments, but also their platooning labelmates, the Whatnauts! What could be better?

I’ll tell you what could be better: a full-on R&B conspiracy, featuring a mysterious man in purple who some around here love to hate.

Our story begins with the Moments and the Whatnauts, heard here collaborating on a great little chune called, simply, “Girls.” The groove is light and frothy, the melody pleasing, the sentiment positive and the singing tuneful, plus — what’s that I hear? A rare R&B deployment of a Mellotron! It’s a winner, and here it is for your enjoyment:

01 Girls-Part I

Up next, the villain in this case, one Prince Rogers Nelson, from his soundtrack LP “Under the Cherry Moon,” with one of my favorite Prince deep cutz, “Mountains”. As soon as I heard the Moments/Whatnauts number, I raced back to the stereo to play this track. Can you hear why?

08 Mountains

Have you twigged it yet? Here, this should help. First the opening chords to “Girls”:

01 Girls Opening segment, Whatnauts

Now, the opening chords to Prince’s “Mountains”:

01 Girls Opening segment, Prince

Let me make this even more plain. Whatnauts:

01 Girls Opening chords, Whatnauts


01 Girls Opening chords, Prince

And, for my coup de grace, the two segments, “stacked” on top of each other:

01 Girls Opening chords, Stacked

What I find remarkable about this coincidence is that both sets of chords are played, a.) in the same key; b.) at the same tempo; c.) with the same general timbre/voicing; and d.) as an introduction to their respective songs. Now, to be clear (lest Prince’s lawyers be listening in): I don’t really think Prince “stole” his intro to “Mountains” from “Girls.” But I do get a warm fuzzy glow thinking of the possibility that he knew about, and liked, that obscure track enough to pay it tribute at the height of his fame. It’s probably just a coincidence, but my job here is to titillate and tantalize as well as enlighten.

I look forward to your reponses.


Nov 272012

The Joy of Soloing

What makes for a great soloing face? We know one when we see one, but is there a combination of facial structure and timed facial expressions that ensures successful face solos?

The following clip of bluesman Freddie King got me thinking about the science of face soloing. We’ve touched on this topic in some detail a few times in the past, such as herehere, and here (the last link being NSFW), but there may be more to learn from Freddie King. I open this conversation to our researchers in RTH Labs, that is, you.

King’s got a face for every lick he plays. It’s as if the notes are sweating out of his face. Along with his timing and pathos he’s blessed with jowls and bushy sideburns. I think they bring a lot out in his face soloing.

Babyfaced Mike Bloomfield also gave great face. What he lacked in jowls he made up for by eagerly leaning forward at all times. The man aimed to please.

Aug 132012

I stink at math, but I am confident in my belief that John Doe‘s bass stance from this X performance meets the ideal angles (ie, crotch-to-feet triangle, feet-relative-to-shoulder width, etc) that all bassists should emulate. May I request that one of the Hall’s mathematicians calculate the angles that make up this ideal bass stance? I was really hoping that Letterman would ask Doe about his stance. This research will benefit other bassists in learning and adopting this proper bass stance? Thank you.


Jul 142012

Greetings. At the urging of Chief RTH Labs Liaison Hrrundi V Bakshi, my dedicated staff set about attempting to determine once and for all which of the two classic Kinks tracks — “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All Of the Night” — is superior. This we attempted to do with the aid of some extremely sophisticated sound analysis machinery, decades of research notes and, of course, the patented, exclusive Stratomatic™ analysis and compositional software, to which only RTH Labs has access.

[audio:|titles=You Really Got Me All Of the Night]

Through the use of all the technologies at our disposal, we were able to produce a new piece of music, weaving both songs into one contiguous piece, that proved once and for all that — scientifically speaking — the tunes have an identical quotient of every required Rock Element. In layman’s terms, they are equally “good.” As always, I invite you to listen for yourself. You will find that your notions of categorical and/or overall superiority for your preferred song are quite irrelevant.

Thank you for your time, and your ongoing interest in the rational, quantitative analysis of rock and roll.

Jul 122012

The Kinks x 2

Has there ever been a band who’s first two big, international singles sounded so much alike that they were like twins? If you just met and liked Bob, you’ll love his identical twin Rob! The Bob and Rob of the rock world would have to be those two British Invasion, proto-heavy metal doppelgangers “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night.” These two sound so much the same the first 100 times you hear them. Same new (for the time) guitar distortion, similar sliding barre-chord riffs, same wild and  un-schooled guitar solos, same dramatic endings.

But you mad scientists here in the Hall can put on your lab coats and really dissect the differences between this pair. Which is the better song and why?

You’ll have to get deep into the tiny details to do it right. I’ll post the audio files (no Youtube – I don’t care about look or stagecraft here) for your use and put my thoughts down in the comments later.

[audio:|titles=The Kinks: You Really Got Me]

[audio:|titles=The Kinks: All Day and All of the Night]

Feb 292012

Strange Days Indeed!

“I couldn’t believe it,” recounted popular Rock Town Hall moderator Mr. Moderator to an anonymous RTH Labs Hotline operator, “I was painting our upstairs bathroom while playing the ‘Elvis Costello’ channel on Pandora when a jangly song came on that sounded like something The Smiths might do…but it wasn’t the slightest bit annoying!” Mr. Moderator quickly placed the paint roller back in the tray, washed his hands, and ran to his bedroom stereo to see what was playing. Sure enough it was The Smiths’ “Is It Really So Strange?”, a song he couldn’t place ever having heard before, not even in women’s dorm rooms from his college days.

[audio:|titles=The Smiths, “Is it Really So Strange”]

Mr. Moderator stood before the speakers and used all of his immense powers of concentration and critical thinking to see if he could determine that the song, like all previous Smiths songs he’d heard before, did in deed suck thanks to Morrissey’s whiny vocals and ill-defined melodies. But the song in no way sucked. He couldn’t even demean the song as “wimpy.” That’s when he called the RTH Labs Hotline.

“I’d tried liking The Smiths—even the slightest bit—over the years,” Mr. Mod explained, “but I was always put off by Morrissey’s aimless vocals and resentful of the mystifying ‘guitar god’ status granted to Johnny Marr.” He continues, “One week I even immersed myself in solo Morrissey records and found I liked them better than the stuff he did with The Smiths.” He then tried listening to The Smiths again but still couldn’t understand what people heard in those records. “The solo Morrissey stuff wasn’t too bad, though. Maybe it was the influence of Mick Ronson that gave him some focus,” he muses. “This Smith song, however, is as solid as the best of those solo records. Morrissey within the song’s rhythm, and I even like Marr’s guitar playing!”

RTH Labs is currently investigating why this particular Smiths song is so much better than anything else the Moderator has ever heard by the band. Your input will be added to the investigation.


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