Nov 212011

"You had me at Dick Clark as Hitler."

Once a year I try to listen to my lone Devo album, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! I want to love it. I begin to chuckle over it before I even drop the needle. Once I do, however, musically there’s not enough there for me to care about, no matter how much I try. I inevitably skip ahead to get my requisite laughs out of the song “Jocko Homo” before logging onto YouTube to marvel at their videos. Devo videos are amazing!

As an impressionable college freshman I got into The Residents. I bought Third Reich ‘n Roll and Meet the Residents as soon as I saw the album covers, without ever hearing a note of the band’s music. (Actually, come to think of it, I stole both records before ever hearing a note of the band’s music, but that’s a long story I might have shared once and I will probably share once more in the future…) The Residents’ album covers and concepts are amazing! I dig their “classic” albums enough to actually feel compelled to rank their musical output and cite “turning points” in their development, but without the record covers and overriding concepts, what would be the point of ever listening to The Residents? Without the medium of the 12-inch vinyl album cover could The Residents have ever existed? I don’t think so. What 18-year-old kid is going to log into the iTunes Store to sample and download a Residents album?

I’ve never liked KISS, but I’ve got to give them credit for their visual appeal. Sans makeup and pyrotechnics would KISS have been anything more than a “1-hit wonder” like Brownsville Station?

What artists are you attracted to primarily for their visual appeal, even long after you’ve bought and dug their records?

Previously: Music That’s Better With the Sound Turned Off: Devo

Feb 222007

Townsman Trolleyvox hipped me to the following performance of a young Billy Preston doing a version of the song your Moderator believe best satisfies the objectives of rock ‘n roll:

Billy Preston, “Satisfaction”

That’s right, if you haven’t heard me on this already, I believe that no song better satisfies the objectives of rock ‘n roll than The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction”. Every now and then I stumble across another version of this classic, and when I’m not dazzled by the outrageous treatment of the song (eg, both The Residents‘ and Devo‘s versions) or horribly offended (Cat Power‘s version), I’m usually about as unimpressed by versions such as Billy Preston’s as I am Otis Redding‘s version.

I know, I know, rock nerds – Mick and Keef wrote the song for Otis – but the black artists I’ve heard cover “Satisfaction” can’t get to the song’s cool and sly teenage rage. Otis belts it out like he’s expecting the exhaltation of a heavyweight boxer who’s gone the distance against The Champ. Here, Billy Preston just has fun with what the song has to offer. He’s satisfied. He’s not fooling me. Granted, those sorority girls who come out to dance in front of him and the band don’t help matters.

I can say that it’s a good thing the following dynamic duo is not documented having covered “Satisfaction”:


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