Apr 012020
 

Ever have one of those moments when you reflect and say to yourself, “It’s time I try being a better person; it’s time I give [insert thing you’ve never liked] a chance”? I had one of those moment last week, when I decided to give ZZ Top a chance.

Social distancing has opened my mind and heart to all sorts of things I’d normally not watch on Netflix, like Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop Lab series. How much more annoying could a ZZ Top documentary, That Little Ol’ Band From Texas, be than a 6-part series featuring Paltrow and her fellow vocal fry lackeys self-obsessing over touchy-feely subjects that first came into being to make us better people spiritually, not worse?

To my surprise and delight, to my edification as an evolved, better person, the ZZ Top documentary was not bad at all. I realized at least 5 things from watching this program:

  1. The members of ZZ Top are way more articulate and engaging than I was expecting.
  2. Billy Gibbons is and always has been much thinner than I realized. (What is with the insertion of the middle initial F, though?)
  3. The band spend most of its career looking like regular, cowboy dudes, which was a much less annoying Look than their bearded, sharp-dressed man shtick of the MTV age. I barely paid any attention to ZZ Top in their first 10 years, but had I, I would have been much less put off by simply looking at them. Hearing those old songs again, I still don’t get much pleasure out of them, but their instrument tones are sweet. Their surge in popularity thanks to the MTV hits explains so much of what I don’t like about that band. Had it not been for that evolution in their career, I could have happily ignored them through the glory years of RTH and saved Townsman hrrundivbakshi much heartache.
  4. I still don’t care for Prince.
  5. Beside some footage of vultures sitting back by drummer Frank Beard, which we’d uncovered years ago in our Bullshit On series regarding the alleged tour featuring livestock, there’s nothing more to prove that bison and bucking broncos and whatnot actually shared the stage with the band. Come on, an entire segment of the doc highlights this part of the band’s mythology, including an interview with a rodeo clown who was supposedly hired to wrangle the animals, and we don’t even get a still image of a bison sharing a mic with Dusty Hill? I smell a page taken from the playbook of that Scorsese doc on Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Review.
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Dec 242015
 

Flunk Punks “Guitar Tech” Paul Shields, with THE INFAMOUS YAMAHA DT 175 IN THE BACKGROUND!

Happy holidays, Rock Town Hall members and hangers-on!

As has become a bit of a tradition ’round these parts, on this festive day of the year, I present you with the annual telling of my greatest moment of rock embarrassment — namely, the story of The Day I Rode My Motorcycle On-stage at School Assembly and Proceeded to Suck Mightily. This year, however…there’s more!

First of all, there are pictures to share, culled from dusty old photo albums–including, as you’ll see above, a picture of the actual motorcycle! I wish I had pictures of all the members of the “band,” but there seem to be just a few in my possession. Perhaps more illuminating, I’ve managed to gather a few recollections of the event from other members of the Flunk Punks! This year, I managed to track down two: David “Bertie” Bertram and Peter Horn. Peter was characteristically taciturn about the whole affair, but Bertie remembered something I’d long since forgotten: the Flunk Punks “groupies!”

Anyway, the story proceeds below, followed by our star witnesses’ commentary. Enjoy, and–best wishes for the season, RTH!

HVB

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Aug 182015
 

The House That George Bought.

The House That George Bought.

Here’s your chance to live in the Newark, Delaware house that George Thorogood once owned and drank—alone—in!

http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/philadelphia-real-estate/Three-bedrooms-two-baths-and-one-guitarist.html

On its face, this home looks like your standard single suburban home. Three bedrooms, a sizeable (0.60 acre) lot and a couple of baths.

The 1,500-plus square-foot property has been fully renovated, including a gourmet kitchen with radiant heat flooring and all new appliances.

But there is a large, blue sign just out front of the driveway gate that reminds potential buyers that this place is unlike many other Newark, Delaware homes on the market. It announces the former owner-occupant: one George Thorogood (he of the Destoyers and “Bad to the Bone” fame).

“This humble home was the first residence of Blues Hall of Fame guitarist ‘Lonesome’ George Thorogood purchased on July 1, 1981 after his national rise to prominence,” the sign reads.

Come on, you know you’re interested!

Previously

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Apr 152014
 

He doesn't want to make it cry or sing.

He doesn’t want to make it cry or sing.

Townsman hrrundivbakshi may want to take a seat before reading this. If there’s a fourth member of his Holy Trinity of Rock (ie, ELO, Prince, and ZZ Top), it may be AC/DC. Here goes…

Reports are flying around that the band is going to call it quits in the wake of rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young‘s recent stroke. This is sad news, obviously. Although I’ve never been a big fan of AC/DC, years of prodding by my close personal friend Townsman Sethro, finally turned me onto the genius of their economical hard rock production power. The band has good hooks to boot, that I came around to enjoying as long as I could block out either of their meathead singers. Watching their videos over the last 15 years of my semi-enlightenment regarding the band’s merits, I was always struck by the dedication and focus of Malcolm Young on rhythm guitar. He seemed to define all that is right in a dedicated rhythm guitarist. He’s the rhythm brother that John Fogerty probably wished Tom would have been, or Mark Knopfler’s would-be rhythm brother, the one who “doesn’t want to make it cry or sing.” The guy was a rhythm machine, with seemingly no need to hog the spotlight. He just kept his head bobbing, his forearms pumping, and the band chugging ahead.

I’ve never known much about how AC/DC operated. I found this passage in the story linked above especially meaningful:

Continue reading »

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Jan 112014
 

This performance of “Let It Ride” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive makes me hungry! I can’t help but think of eating a big steak dinner. Every member of the band has spectacular Look that suggests Big Steak Dinner. In fact, I’m about to cook up some beef tacos to at least partially satisfy my hunger.

If given the choice to feast on the members of ZZ Top or the members of BTO, which band would you eat?

Remember the old cartoon trick, where the hunter looks at the hunted and sees the image of a fresh, steaming steak in the place of the hunted’s face? That’s how I feel as I watch this clip—and I’ve watched it a half dozen times already.

Try watching this clip and describe which member of BTO is most appetizing. Please be descriptive, because I can never keep straight which guy is Bachman, which is Turner, and which is Overdrive.

I look forward to your comments dinner!

If given the choice to feast on the members of ZZ Top or the members of BTO, which band would you eat?

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Aug 132013
 

Last week I was driving around and flipped the dial to my local Oldies station. Prince‘s “1999” was getting underway. That’s one of the few Prince songs I kind of like (although I don’t like it as much as Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” which always sounds to me like a better version of the same song). I decided to stop flipping and listen to the entire song, anticipating the “I’m a bigger man” character building side benefits to come.

The more I tried to throw myself into the mild enjoyment I get from “1999” the more I felt myself getting perplexed by the song’s rhythm track. People like to dance to that song, don’t they? “It’s got a lousy beat, and you can dance to it!” I imagine some kid telling Dick Clark.

I don’t dance, but I was trying to imagine what elements of the song I might let flow through my hips, if my body ever worked that way in the presence of music. The electronic drums are nothing to write home about. There’s a repeating electronic tom-tom fill that’s especially annoying. The song has very little in the way of bass. What’s at the bottom end may be some kind of synth-bass that’s triggered by the artificial, never-varying drum beat. What in “1999” makes people feel like dancing? Is the rhythmic interplay of the funk guitars and the vocals enough? Is this how people dance to forms of folk music completely lacking drums and bass?

Following “1999” was a song that I can easily imagine dancing to, The Rolling Stones‘ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” I focused on the drum-and-bass parts. Charlie Watts barely varies his simple kick-snare pattern. The bass is cool, moving all around that simple drum part. The maracas are outstanding. If I were capable of dancing, this is the kind of song that would draw me to the dance floor. Is it because the drums, however invariable, are real? Is it because the bass adds variety? Is it because the maracas are so outstanding?

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Aug 102013
 

Group shot of World Texas Tour road crew.

Group shot of World Texas Tour road crew.

You may recall a series of Bullshit On threads doubting tales of ZZ Top touring with longhorn steer, bison, vultures, goats, barnyard cats, and rattlesnakes onstage. The continuing quest to validate ZZ Top’s purported onstage livestock display for its 1976 Worldwide Texas Tour has taken a baby step forward with the following photo, provided by Townsman jungleland2. Let’s see who’s willing to shoot down the veracity of the flying bison pictured behind the band! Undeniable evidence…after the jump!

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