Feb 222011

I’d like to try a new, quick-hit topic that might lead to a useful, occasional series: 1-2 Punch. Top 10 lists are too much; Top 5 lists invite too many opportunities for throwing in a hipster, obscuro choice to distinguish oneself from the raging masses. What I’d like to know is what TWO (2) songs you would choose from an artist’s catalog to say as much about that artist that you believe represents said artist’s core as possible? In other words, if you could only use TWO (2) songs from an artist’s catalog to explain all that said artist is about to a Venutian, what TWO (2) songs would you pick to represent said artist’s place in rock ‘n roll?

I’ll pose two artists and you—love ’em or leave ’em—give me each artist’s representative 1-2 Punch. Dig? Here goes! Continue reading »

Sep 212010

“Saint John Lennon,” by Raphael Labro (courtesy of http://raphaellabro.com/).

Here’s a helpful new addition to the RTH Glossary, originally courtesy of Townsman pudman13, if short-term memory serves.

Based on the critical Teflon of its namesake, John, the Lennon Pass describes the point when an artist is granted a critical “lifetime pass” for accumulated subpar works based on the emotional/spiritual/humanitarian connection rock fans have with said artist’s landmark works and cultural influence. The Lennon Pass may be thought of as a form of rock ‘n roll sainthood.

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with an artist getting the Lennon Pass. Even music fans who do not particularly care for said artist may admit that the pass is merited. The Clash – and Joe Strummer in particular – are a band frequently cited for getting the Lennon Pass. If she hadn’t done so with the surprising success of Easter, High Punk Priestess Patti Smith solidified her Lennon Pass when she returned from her 40 days and nights in Michigan, having established a family with Fred “Sonic” Smith only to lose him to cancer shortly thereafter.

Perceived martyrdom or any form of death, however, is not a requirement for the Lennon Pass – and I don’t mean to make light of these losses. Despite being a curmudgeonly, overweight artist who’s put out little of real interest in more than 30 years, Van Morrison holds the Pass. Bruce Springsteen is another frequently cited recipient; however, some non-believers go out of their way to question His worthiness. Heck, some rock nerds even go out of their way to tear down the works of Lennon himself.

In extreme circumstances the Pass, once granted, can be revoked. Lou Reed is an example of this, having finally had his Lennon Pass revoked after a career-full of failed attempts at spiting the Lennon Pass Committe when he started parading around with that new tai chi addiction.

Simply being an acknowledged Great Artist and/or wildly popular does not ensure the granting of the Pass. The Rolling Stones, for instance, lost all hope of receiving the pass once Mick Jagger crossed all lines of good taste by appearing on stage in football pants and Capezio slippers and then participating in the so-called “Rock Crime of the Century,” Ja-Bo. Despite their best efforts in the studio and across Third World nations, U2 have been unable to acquire the Lennon Pass.

Sep 172010

I’d never seen this performance by The Clash on a 1977 French TV show until a few minutes ago. It’s cool to see them in a controlled environment, with no audience, no pumping PA system, and no concert hall reverberations. They’re presented in a fashion even more straightforward than on their simple, direct debut album. It’s life-size Clash! Enjoy.

Jul 172010

There is one thing that bums me out the most about the legacy of The Clash: that the song “London Calling” is generally considered their anthem and stock song for modern-day artists to cover.

It’s not that I don’t like the song “London Calling”; it’s a keeper, but I consider it most valuable as a set up for what follows on the band’s breakthrough album by the same name. I also consider it a song that only The Clash have the right to play. Of course, maybe that’s why the song has taken such a high place in the band’s legacy, but musically the song leaves me wanting a lot more that I typically expect from a Clash song. If I could erase one thing from The Clash’s legacy it would be this song as the go-to song for artists like The Boss to cover. If a blowhard like The Boss (with or without Elvis Costello, a blowhard I love) must cover a Clash song, I wish it could have been a song with a little more to it, like “Death or Glory.”

How about you, what would you most like to see wiped clean from the legacy of a favorite artist?

Aug 142009

WORLD’s GREATEST BAND! THE ONLY BAND THAT MATTERS!… I’m not going to make any claims on anyone else’s behalf, but for me, I found that The Rolling Stones and The Clash, Twin Towers of live rock ‘n roll credibility, were sorely disappointing live and actually seemed to derive as much as their legendary status and goodwill from studio wizardry as frequently derided bands, such as ELO and The Monkees. I never got to see the early Clash, documented at their ferocious live peak in the film Rude Boy (eg, the “Complete Control” footage above), but it seems to me that once they expanded their studio sound with the excellent London Calling and the rich Sandinista, Mick Jones and Paul Simonon couldn’t keep up, couldn’t present their newer music adequately in a live setting, and at the same time lost the focus to deliver the old stuff. Who knows, maybe that was poor Brian Jones’ fault too.

Have you ever felt this way about any band you love that was hyped up as having tremendous live cred? Do I just feel this way because I tend to be a “record” guy rather than a live guy, or have you too ever been psyched to see some “amazing” live band only to leave the show looking forward to getting back to their crafted studio records?

Jul 062009

Townsman Chickenfrank‘s excellent coulda-woulda-shoulda enhancement of the BTO/pizza guy myth has me thinking there are more interesting Rock tales yet to be told — and I’m betting YOU have the creative writing talent to tell them! The general idea is simple: find a noteworthy sound or sight from Rock history and explain it in a sensational fashion that virtually guarantees the Internet will pick it up and run with it. Actual, true stories are discouraged. References to BTO and pizza gain you extra points.

Here are a few sights and sounds that could use more interesting explanations. You may also, of course, furnish your own:

1. Paul McCartney‘s bare feet on the Abbey Road cover
2. The distorted guitar in “You Really Got Me”
3. The false start in The Clash‘s “Wrong ‘Em Boyo”
4. What Led Zeppelin were *really* doing with that fish and that groupie in Seattle
5. Why “Cocksucker Blues” was never released — i.e., the stuff nobody has ever seen

I look forward to your responses.



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