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Feb 062012

Now that’s some cool stagecraft! What was the last great integration of technology or gadgetry you saw at a rock and roll show? Conversely, what was the worst deployment of technology in the service of Rock you ever witnessed on stage?

I look forward to your responses.



Rhythm Beard

 Posted by
Jan 312012
Grown To Catch Spills

Built To Spill, featuring Doug Martsch on Lead Beard (Foreground) and Brett Nelson on Rhythm Beard (Background)

Any long-term follower of discussions in the Hall will note the ongoing importance of discussing Look as a factor in the success of musical acts. Today, we’re exploring a lesser known but nonetheless important Look phenomenon: The Rhythm Beard. Continue reading »

Jan 132012

Show me the rattlesnake!

In our continuing review of Rock Town Hall’s first 5 years as a blog, we will be providing some brief reviews of key aspects of this place. The hope is these overviews will pay homage to the contributions of our peers and provide newcomers easy access into the blog’s rich past. Let’s look at Rock Town Hall’s role as a semi-historical rock resource.

Continue reading »

Jan 062012

"Put a quarter in the jar, Pete!"

When you get to the 1:25 mark of Pete Townshend‘s demo for “Doctor Jimmy,” from the spectacularly fascinating Quadrophenia box set, listen closely and tell me what’s missing from the album version, the version we know so well and listened to while trying to make sense of our teenage angst.

[audio:|titles=”Doctor Jimmy” (Demo)]

Continue reading »

Dec 142011

A maths professor entertains:

I spent my formative years wandering about on beaches rearranging the stones and shells into pleasing shapes, going through life moving things about to look nice, enjoying learning how to use words for their sounds rather than their meanings, wearing stupid clothes just to annoy people. One of my best friends grew half a beard on the left-hand side of his face just because we couldn’t think of anyone else who had done so recently. The music I loved (and love) most acts on feeling and emotion, to be funny or sad. There is no requirement for it to make sense lyrically or musically, as long as it sounds more like a painting than a maths exercise. By the time I left school I had such a profound loathing for the English educational system and the regular beatings involved that I had no desire to go to University. If I had I would not have opted for the sciences.

Mrs Happiness, on the other hand, has a degree in Theoretical Physics, and we met while she was studying for an MBA, which seemed to be trying to apply mathematical logic to the science of shopping. She doesn’t like music much, taking particular exception to most of the music I like, (and especially – as I have mentioned on previous occasions – Frank Sidebottom), although she has been known to listen to Queen for pleasure, claims to have listened to Yes on occasion, and prior to meeting me the only gig she had been to was a vast outdoor thing to look at someone who might have been Jean-Michel Jarre in the far, far distance. I have often wondered whether astronomer Brian May’s playing speaks to her very logical mind, enabling her to recognise something going on his playing which I’m missing – because goodness knows I’ve never been able to work out where Queen were coming from. John Deacon has a BSc in electronics, Roger Taylor a BSc Honours in biology. Freddie did art, but for the sake of this argument may be considered the exception that proves the rule.

One of my oldest and dearest and artiest friends married a lady who went on to get a PhD in Psychology, and one of the things she and Mrs H particularly enjoy talking about, especially when we are in earshot, is their pathological disdain for Trout Mask Replica. Or any music that either of their husbands enjoy.

Google doesn’t seem to want to yield which subjects Thomas Dolby studied, and Eno may look the part but is educationally as arty as they come. Mira Aroyo of Ladytron has a PhD in Genetics, but otherwise musical scientists seem fairly thin on the ground.

Does anyone know of any other musicians with actual science qualifications who might provide a bridge across this familial divide? And would scientific debate be more interesting in the long run if the Higgs-Boson particle is proved not to exist?

Nov 182011

So much troubles me about this clip: the anachronistically grainy, washed-out look of it and the in-your-face camera angles for starters. The band must have been terrified to have some kid jamming his Hipstamatic video phone device in their faces. And what’s with that Deadhead backdrop? Does this thing take place in a club, a frat, a shrine to Jerry? No one in the crowd seems capable of generating any real energy, even after the main singer announces around the 3:30 mark that he wants to see more energy. Yet the crowd keeps dancing (badly), singing along (out of key), raising their plastic beer cups to the camera. The whole thing makes me nauseous, yet I can’t turn away from it. See if you can make it through. RTH Labs believes this may be the whitest crowd ever captured on video. I don’t think this is what Eric Burdon had in mind…


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