Mar 302007

See here!

See if you can read the fine print in the following ad, perhaps rock’s earliest ode to The Power and Glory of Rock!

Mad props to Townsman The Great 48!


  19 Responses to “Truth in Packaging (For Better and For Worse)”

  1. BigSteve

    Has the violin ever really worked in rock? I don’t mean the fiddle. Roots rock can incorporate countryish fiddle playing (think of the opening of Rag Mama Rag), but I can’t think of a lot of good Rock violinists. Eddie Jobson maybe?

    The Look of the guy on this album cover seemed to be de rigeur for rock violinists. Remember The Flock? If not, you’re lucky.

    I heard White Bird the other day on some oldies station, and it brought back a lot of bad memories.

  2. hrrundivbakshi

    BigSteve, I direct your attention to the Zappa/Beefheart collaboration, “Willie the Pimp.” I admit that’s the only rock violin I can think of that works, but *boy* does it work! (Mind you, when the guitar kicks in, it sort of renders the violin a bit useless.)

  3. BigSteve

    New Orleans’ own Don ‘Sugarcane’ Harris. Good call.

  4. saturnismine

    yeah!! i was just gonna say “willie the pimp”.

    BigSteve, I’m assuming you mean a “single violin” as an element of a performing band opposed to “strings” used as a production element.

    i could never get into the violin as a single instrument in a rock band. some people like “desire” era dylan, but the violin is one of the things that ruins that for me. too busy….

  5. BigSteve

    Right, a string section is a totally different animal, which has been misused certainly but has had a wider range of successful applications.

    And yes, the Desire album is not one of my favorites. Good rhythm section, and I know what he was going for with that gypsy thing, but it just didn’t gel. David Mansfield has done good work with the Alpha Band/T Bone Burnett and others, but he’s kind of on the border between violin and fiddle.

  6. saturnismine

    ahhh…violin vs. fiddle…now we’re talkin’.

    neil young’s (or linda rondstadt’s even!) version of “love is a rose” is more of a fiddle thing (as is your “rag mama rag” example). they all sit pretty well on my ears…

    have you ever heard the sans-neil crazy horse’s version of “see the girl dance”? some real mean fiddlin’ there, too, very similar to “love is a rose” actually….

  7. BigSteve

    have you ever heard the sans-neil crazy horse’s version of “see the girl dance”? some real mean fiddlin’ there, too, very similar to “love is a rose” actually….

    You mean Dance, Dance, Dance from the first self-titled Crazy Horse record? I used to have that one, but no more. Round and Round on Everybody Knows This is Nowhere has some nice non-fiddly violin on it, now that you mention Neil.

    It occurs to me that cello has a beter record than violin in rock. Jane Scarpantoni’s credits on AMG are very impressive. And Amy Domingues is a comer. There’s also a pretty significant viola player in rock history.

  8. hrrundivbakshi

    Cello: Roy Wood, baby! Have you forgotten the *awesome* “Rock Down Low”? Talk about a song in desperate need of a loving cover treatment!

  9. saturnismine

    yeah, “dance, dance, dance”. i forgot about “round and round”. it’s also on “runnin’ dry”.

    the “shakey” book talks about the origins of crazy horse as being much more open to things like violin than what it would be come under neil’s stewardship. it sounds like it was much more the genuine gypsy vibe (people showin up outta nowhere, pluggin’ in, and playin’) than the one that dylan tried to manufacture.

    fritz: roy and mo have already laid down a bitchin’ remake of “rock down low” that just gets it back to the barest essentials. it’s so dirty, even guitar wolf will be jealous…

  10. Mr. Moderator

    I know what you’re saying, BigSteve. You guys have covered a lot of the best of the meager bunch. Howzabout Warren Benbow’s wah-wah violion work with James Blood Ulmer? Is is fiddle or violin? Whatever it is, it works for me.

    When I think of bad violin in rock, I think of the woman who played (plays?) with Mellencamp. Her whole vibe is wrong. Is that her or a double who plays with The Jayhawks. Not quite working for me.

    I’ll take Cale’s viola playing in a rock setting. I think the cello got exhausted about 10 minutes after Scarpantoni’s name started showing up on every Hoboken-based recording. It became an excuse to get a raven-haired, slender, long-skirted band member up on stage to “class up” the boys. I will say that the Pere Ubu show I saw around 1990 with Garo Yellin on cello was transcendent, in large part due to Yellin’s work.

  11. Petra Haden is a really good rock violinist. Definitely not fiddle. I hear she’s working with The Decemberists but in the past she’s done stuff with Cibo Matto, The Rentals and tons of other folks. I like That Dog, the band she was in that included one of her two triplet sisters and Anna Waronker. Her violin playing is very original and effective in that fairly rocking context.

  12. Mr. Moderator

    What would you call Dave Swarbuck, or whatever his name is – the guy on Fairport Convention’s Full House? I like his work on that album. I also like the guy who played with King Crimson, and I kind of like the “gypsy” violinist from Dylan’s Desire through Live at Budakon era. Now I’m asking myself, Do I actually like violin in rock?

  13. Great comment about Petra Haden, Geo. I’ve dug her for a long time too:)

  14. I saw Alejandro Escovedo with his String Quartet and it was the most successful amalgamation of violins and cellos into rock music I’ve ever heard. You never once thought you were listening to classical music or some rock/classical hybrid. This rocked like a sonuvabitch with two guitars, a violin, and two cellos.

  15. I somehow forgot Susie Honeyman, the Mekons violinist. She does quite a lot of what might be called fiddle, but rocks out on violin frequently. Notably the Cale-like squall she kicks up on “Hello Cruel World” from Edge of the World and the nifty double tracked violin duet on “All I Want” from I HEART Mekons. Langford also has an excellent violinist named Jean Cook that plays with him on his solo shows under the band name Ship & Pilot. Mr. Mod might be interested because this band usually includes Tony Maimone on bass.

  16. Good call on Jean Cook, Geo. I saw her really rock out on violin when playing with Jenny Toomy a number of years back. Cook is also a vocalist in one of my favorite current bands, Beauty Pill.

  17. BigSteve

    I was listening to Yo La Tengo’s latest one last night, because I’m supposed to be going to see them on Thursday (with David Kilgour of The Clean opening!). There was some nice non-fiddly violin on a couple of songs. I just checked, and what do you know it turned out to be the aforementioned David Mansfield.

    The more I think about it the key seems to be that violinists can work as long as the focus is accompaniment. It’s when they try to mimic guitar heroics that the problems come in.

  18. mwall

    Swarbick’s a fantastic violin/fiddle player. Several of his solo records are first rate, along with his better known work with Fairport. Is he a “rock” violinist? It’s borderline. Electric folk–is that rock? Geo?

  19. general slocum

    Big Steve is seeing: Yo La Tengo (with David Kilgour of The Clean opening!).

    Just playing their Boodle Boodle Boodle EP to a 20 year-old guitarist at a college gig the other day. That stuff ages well as far as I’m concerned.

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