May 032011

OK, musical tastes aside—and in full acknowledgment that your humble Moderator is not that cool—how many telltale signs of a rock ‘n roll asshole can you spot in this “Super Boogie” clip?

Before anyone gets high and mighty and accuses me of never having made a living off playing music like these super-duper road warriors—Jeff Beck, Carlos Santana, and Steve Lukather—and therefore am not qualified to hold an opinon on this matter, can we have a moment of honesty? Come on, even if you’re having fun and think you’ve earned the right to pull off some of these moves, such as tucking your jeans into your boots, deep down you know you’re pushing it, right?

So go ahead, these guys are big boys, they can take it. See how many rock ‘n roll asshole moves (ie, gestures, dress, gear accoutrements, faces, licks, etc) you can spot!


  35 Responses to “Telltale Signs of a Rock ‘n Roll Asshole”

  1. I don’t know if multiple answers are allowed here so I’ll start with two.

    1. Orgasmic grimacing “I’m cumminggg” face while soloing (Steve) – only allowed if you’re in pain.

    2. Back to the audience (Carlos) – all those folks want to see you.

  2. Thanks for your concern, tonyola. Unlike a Last Man Standing, I think it’s fine, within reason, to post multiple answers. There should be enough signs to go around.

  3. BigSteve

    Is there anything that Steve Lukather does in this clip that’s NOT assholish?

  4. Probably not, BigSteve. I’ll award the Patented RTH No-Prize to the Townsperson who can spot a lone instance of non-assholishness from Luthaker.

    One gear-related asshole thing I see on Luthaker’s guitar is that complex tuning system, with a lock at the top of the neck and the need to tune from the bottom of the bridge. Just tune your guitar the old-fashioned way, OK?

  5. trigmogigmo

    Lukather should be on American Idol Guitar Edition. Here he exhibits everything bad that American Idol asks of vocalists. It’s technical histrionics over anything good, interesting, and listenable.

    At 1:38 the camera cuts to Beck, who turns to the RTH viewers to say, “Just so you know that I know that Big Steve’s comment is 100% right about Lukather, watch as I hold down this rhythm track by plucking one string mockingly with my thumb while striking a one-man Rock and Roll Iwo Jima homage pose.”

    2:30 — Kudos to bass player Neil deGrasse Tyson! But thumbs down on his leopard print shirt and footpantwear. Mitigating factor: it’s the 80s, after all.

    #16 Joe Montana jersey on the drummer. Joe was cool. Wearing that jersey on stage was not.

    Serious question: is that Jan Hammer on keyboards?

  6. BigSteve

    Yeah I assumed that was Hammer. Simon Phillips on drums?

  7. I thought that was Hammer, trigmo. Excellent analysis!

    Luthaker is still alive, right? I don’t mean to insult anyone’s political views, but doesn’t he seem like the kind of guy who will soon run for office on the Republican ticket in Colorado or some other Mountain Time state?

  8. How would you like to look over your shoulder to see deGrasse Tyson’s comic, head-tilted mugging at the 2:30 mark?

  9. tonyola

    Yeah, those fashions look silly now but we have to consider the fact that this was the ’80s after all – the decade of sartorial disasters. There are photos of me on stage in tight shiny black pants, a red spandex top with metal studs on the collar, a white Miami Vice jacket with rolled sleeves, and a bandanna around the head. It could have been worse – our guitar player wore leg-warmers over his jeans. No, it wasn’t intended to be ironic either.

  10. Well, I’ve now sat through this thing twice in an effort to find some non-assholish behavior from SL and I’ve got precious little to show for it, but a thought occurred to me.

    Not to make excuses for his behavior but SL’s mouth contortions and furious lip-licking at 1:07 seem to indicate that a sizable amount of the Devil’s Dandruff may have been taken backstage. If that’s the case, maybe it could have been a lot worse. It’s all relative. Maybe he IS reining it in during this performance.

    And while I admire that Tonyola is willing to take ownership for his own misguided wardrobe choices of the past, at least it sounds like he was making a serious (albeit ill advised) effort. As for the bass player, there is simply no excuse for Buttafuco Pants. Ever.

    Tonyola, if you still have that photo, please post it.

  11. misterioso

    Wow. Steve Lukather. I loved his instructional video “Mastering the Cliches of Lead Guitar in 30 Minutes…or Less!”

  12. alexmagic

    Between the purple jacket and the faces he’s pulling – particularly from about 1:30-1:45 – Lukather is giving us glimpse at what might have happened if Michael Keaton had played The Joker in 1989 instead of Batman, and if Jeff Beck or Carlos Santana had supplied the soundtrack instead of Prince. Actually, that’s a major insult to Keaton, it’s more like a bad comedian’s impression of Keaton playing the Joker.

    I was going to give Lukather non-asshole points for retreating to the keyboard riser and doing some minor Iwo Jima work (we had a term for this, didn’t we, when only one or two band members team up as opposed to the full Rock Iwo Jima?), shades of Styx, but if that is Jan Hammer as it appears to be, that just makes the move more asshole-ish, since Hammer might be the most famous/richest guy on stage at the time.

    I guess the best/least worst thing he does in this clip is take orders well. Right at :48, you can see Santana bark out the order to go to work and points out the area on stage that he should occupy, and Lukather gives him an excited nod and then does a nifty little two step shuffle into a pirouette into a Guitar Crouch.

    The bass player and Lukather team up for a hilarious moment, too. Check 2:35-2:42, when the two of them suddenly spot each other and whip their faces at each other in a dual Jagger Lunge. Can anybody ID this guy? He’d have been an ideal candidate for an ’80s Wyman replacement. I can picture this guy in leopard workout gear doing jumping jacks right next to Mick in the Mixed Emotions video.

    Looks like Jeff Beck comes off best here by smartly doing the least, but he shouldn’t get away scott free, either. What’s the deal with the right arm movements from :35-:39? You’re playing a guitar, not a theremin, man. You can spot him doing it again at 1:30-1:32. Did he bump his elbow and develop a tic like George Costanza?

    Then, my favorite part: take a close look at 1:37-1:39, when Beck and Jan Hammer do that arm move in stereo!

    I take it back, Santana wins the day by being smart enough to surround himself with a stage full of people who all upstage him on Rock Asshole moves.

  13. alexmagic

    Apologies for writing so much here, but there’s another, related phenomenon on display here that I don’t think we’ve fully named/explored. For now, I’m going to refer to it as The Law of Conservation of Rock Energy, but perhaps it’s more of an example of Rock Thermodynamics.

    Throughout this clip, we see multiple members of the band playing at each other, as opposed to with each other. Contrast this against what a (usually) non-playing member of a band does, like Jagger, who can point out and spotlight people because he has his hands free. He’s just directing the show. I’m talking about moments in this clip like the :45 second mark where all three other guys turn to face Steve Lukather and play at him, like they’re sending their bass/guitar power to him to charge him up for his big spotlight that’s about to happen.

    At 2:07, the bass player steps up next to Santana, turns and leans in towards the drummer, either transmitting or receiving energy from him. This might also explain what Lukather is doing up on Jan Hammer’s keyboard riser – is he doing a the musical equivalent of a mid-air jet refuel, so drained by his showcase that he needs Hammer to top him off so he can finish the song?

    Santana and the drummer have a moment a little later, but I think that’s more of a case of just the two of them having a Rock Team Up than any energy transference, as they both seem to come out of that at full power, rather than one sacrificing his rock reserves so that the other can get supercharged.

  14. No apologies necessary when you’re bringing the heat, as you’ve been doing!

    By the way, alexmagic, recent world events have probably made it necessary to implement your long-held plan for electing a President of Rock and a full administration to support his or her efforts. When you get a chance, can you write me offlist to outline your ideas on the President of Rock? I’ve been contemplating possible candidates for the eventual Rock Cabinet. Thanks.

  15. BigSteve

    I agree tonyola, we really must see the evidence.

  16. I think you’re right: no drummer looks more like Martin Short than Mr. Phillips! Plus, I think he’s patented that ambidextrous playing style.

  17. Excellent. Carlos is definitely the “Dad” onstage here, knowing that he’s taking the kids to the candy store in having three solo-y guitarists on stage during a groovy blues jam.

    Beck takes the “good kid” role by underplaying his cohorts, possibly putting a good word in with Dad that wild-bro Steve is about to meet them at the register with eight pounds of Sour Brite Crawlers. I like how Beck stares his concern toward the rhythm section at the end, chiding them for flubbing the timing on that off-beat kicker right before Carlos’ break at the end.

    I was also going to give Lukather non-asshole points for his rhythm-retreat, but he ruins it not only with the proximity foul you notice, but also in that he can’t leave well-enough alone and has to jump down in a hair-flapping fashion (and looking toward the audience when he lands). He just can’t seem to do anything that doesn’t say “look at me!” Lukather’s saving grace is that he looks like a regular guy who would accept a proffered Bud Light at a party without comment, giving him a tentative Most Likely Not To Get The Shotgun award.

  18. tonyola

    And set myself up for blackmail? Not a chance. Besides, I don’t have a scanner handy.

  19. Some gimmes that have not yet been identified:

    Dudes with dangling earrings. (Yeah, I know, it was the ’80s. Full Disclosure: There were a few weeks in the early ’80s when your humble moderator sported a dangling earring. I knew I was pushing it.)

    Sleeveless shirts. Unless you’re an NBA player wearing a tank top, you should have some kind of sleeves. Even basketball shirts that are more the sleeveless style (rather than traditional tank tops) are not cool. I don’t care how massive your guns are, either wear sleeves or go shirtless.

    A couple of things I need a ruling on. I’m not sure if these are signs of a rock ‘n roll asshole or me being insecure about my own weaknesses as a guitarist and/or human being.

    1) What’s with all three guitarists wearing watches on stage? Do they have a dinner appointment after this set? I know some good people who play good music who wear a watch on stage. Is this simply something I don’t like (perhaps because I’m not a watch wearer), or do those of you who wear a watch know you’re pushing it? Honestly.

    2) I know he’s a fantastic player, even when playing in styles I don’t like, but what’s with Jeff Beck’s guitar position, the way he wraps his pick arm behind the bottom of the guitar like how one of my old GI Joe figures used to hold a machine gun? Is he trying to tell me his form is better than mine? And what’s with his finger-picking style, the way he’s coaxing every note? Must every single note be coaxed? Can’t he just play a note now and then?

  20. tonyola

    I don’t have a problem with tank tops or muscle shirts if you’re taut or buff enough to look good in them. It’s rock and roll – if you got it, flaunt it. Carlos and Jeff are pushing it with their muscle shirts, but at least soft, jowly Lukather isn’t wearing one, right?

    As for Jeff Beck’s playing posture, I wonder if it’s a holdover from the days when guitar players would have their instruments up at chest level. Jeff’s been around quite a while.

  21. I don’t know, Elvis, Little Richard, The Beatles, and even wild dresser Jimi Hendrix had the good taste to avoid muscle tees and tank tops. I think all rockers should follow their restraint. Flaunt those guns on the beach! But despite our minor disagreement here, you are right, tonyola: let us have a moment of silence in thanks for Luthaker’s modesty.

    Not a bad theory on Beck’s playing posture. It still makes me think too much about my old GI Joes.

  22. The sleveless shirt look is what stood out to me. I know Jeff Beck drinks from some kind of fountain of youth but he needs to get some real shirts. He’s still doing the sleeveless shirt thing.

    We may be seeing even more of this, since Beck is supposedly working with Rod Stewart on a “blues” album.

  23. alexmagic

    Every ticket for a Sha Na Na concert earned the buyer two free passes to Bowser’s Gun Show.

  24. OK, every rule has an exception.

  25. Wow, this STINKS. Nice one note riff guys. Luke: Just cause Toto is lame does not mean you have to “show us you rock” by dancing like a fool. Bassist: don’t mug at Jeff Beck, in fact, NEVER look him in the eye. Jeff: Try to play something that goes with the song in your solo. Nice mocking one-note thing though on the low E. Carlos: Thanks for trying to lead this band into doing somthing with some soul or groove, but for God’s sake you have Jan Hammer in this band, you have no soul or groove. Drummer: Sorry you had to play this for 4 minutes, hope you got laid after the show.

  26. Everyone has got an issue with Beck’s underarm holes open to the waist. Beck is definitely the inspiration behind Nigel Tufnel.

  27. Two things late in the show. At around 3:10- :20 the bassist does a series of thumb pops. Use these sparingly or you turn out like Flea. And, even with that massive kit, at 3:40 you glimpse the unpardonable 80’s octagonal syndrum.

  28. bostonhistorian

    Calling it “Super Boogie” is the asshole move which encompasses everything which goes on in that video.

  29. Yes, I’m glad that was cited. I take issue, too, with that upside-down cymbal. Really, have you ever gotten to a point in a song, either as a player or listener, and thought, “An upside-down cymbal crash would do nicely at this point!”

    OK, maybe that thing fits in Captain Beefheart’s “Sheriff of Hong Kong,” but that’s for comic effect.

  30. yes, as it is not super nor does it boogie at all.

  31. I dunno, I thought it was pretty good……I keed! Man, that sucks! Lukather should be doing hard time for this! Beck is always a sartorial mess, but he can dress & hold his guitar any way he likes as far as I’m concerned…and as far as his solo “not going with the song” – I have no problem with a little dissonance; it was the most memorable thing in this “super boogie”. I always thought Beck’s arm position was due to the way he works the whammy bar (which he does constantly) while picking out the notes (and never playing with a pick). Still, this is an abomination in general. Nice to see Carlos NOT making the “I’m cumming!” face, though – Anyone ever see his performance in the film “Soul To Soul”? – He’s “cumming” nearly the entire time he’s on stage.

  32. Bobby, those are great points re: Beck’s whammy bar rationale and Carlos’ surprising lack of orgasmic faces!

  33. tonyola

    It’s true that Carlos generally does not employ the orgasm face, but he is prone to the “I’m-on-a-different-existential-plane-because-the-Supreme-Being-is-twisting-my-nads” look. Not much better, is it?

Lost Password?

twitter facebook youtube