The Three Best Drummers in Rock...

This is for Pat, who took the fly (He'll get the reference)....

3. Keith Moon - Townshend once said that The Who consisted of "Roger on lead vocal, me on lead guitar, John on lead bass, and and Keith on lead drums." One of the marks of a great drummer is that his band can't continue without him (or her).  The Who without Keith became what Pete Townshend called "The Who on ice...."

Listen to him on "Bargain."

2. Neil Peart - I've always thought he had too many drums, but, damn, he can play them.... There are lots of drummers who have to carry loads in trio bands including Ginger Baker in Cream and Mitch Mitchell for Hendrix's Experience. But Peart does more with time signatures and cymbals than anybody else I can think of.

Listen to him on "Fly by Night."

1. John Bonham - Even more decisively than with The Who, Led Zeppelin was over when Bonzo died. LZ was all about power that made your socks roll up and down. Bonzo supplied that in a way that so many drummers have tried to do - unsuccessfully.

Listen to him on "Good Times, Bad Times" and my personal fave, "Tangerine."

Let the complaining begin....



Today it’ll be forty years since the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair ended.

To my fellow Boomers, for so many of whom (like me) Woodstock was such an existential moment, Bob Dylan’s question seems relevant: How does it feel?

To younger generations who see Woodstock only through the prism of history and who find the Boomers ‘ fascination with and smugness about this event alternately inscrutable and unbearable, John Sebastian’s explanation  seems fitting: It’s like trying to tell a stranger about rock and roll.

Here are my stories. Make your own narratives…. 

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Long Time Gone...

Many beloved television shows are no longer with us, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Six Feet Under, and Mystery Science Theater 3000. What defunct television show do you miss the most?
The title of this piece is a reference to a great song on the first Crosby, Stills, and Nash album.  It also refers to my piss poor performance as a blogger. This will be my first entry since October 14 of last year.

I can offer lots of excuses, of course. I have been busy with my musical pursuits. And as Elvis Costello supposedly said, "writing about music is like dancing about architecture." But that never stopped me before.  So I can only plead guilty as charged if anyone accuses me of simply neglecting this blog to chase the unicorn in the garden....

But I'm back now - I hope regularly - and in casting about for something suitable to open this new phase of blogging with, I hit on one of those topics that seem to have begun flitting around the edges of Boomer consciousnesses everywhere: death.

Specifically, I thought I'd check some sites like Dead Rock Stars Club and see which musicians had left for Rock and Roll Heaven since last I blogged here. So here, with some annotations  based as much on on my idiosyncratic interests as any scholarship is a list of the departed.

So here we go....  

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Walk Away, Levi

By now I'm sure most of you have heard that Levi Stubbs, lead singer of The Four Tops, died last week. Bob Lefsetz has a nice remembrance of him.

And I have one, too.

Like Lefsetz, I was not into the Motown thing at first. I tolerated The Supremes, but I wasn't into The Temptations. I wanted boys with guitars and dreams I felt connected to, not guys in tuxes doing silly/funky dance moves.

But it was hard to resist The Four Tops.Collapse )
  • Current Music
    Four Tops, "Walk Away, Renee"

Ringo Sings the "No No Song" to Fans...

This just in - Ringo Starr, otherwise known as Richard Starkey, would be hairdresser and luckiest man in rock history, has decided that he will accept no more fan mail and give no more autographs.

I'm not sure how  feel about this. Ringo is 68 now, and we're a long way from Beatlemania - or from Ringo's solo career. Sure, he does the All-Starr band thing, but that just a glorified "oldies" tour with Ringo and other aging Boomer rockers playing to adoring audiences who are there to remember when they were all young and not dependent on Viagra, Retin-A, or - Depends. Collapse )
  • Current Music
    "It Don't Come Easy," Ringo Starr

A Bit More About Covers

Been thinking a little more about covers and the idea crossed my mind" "What about bad covers?"

My great and good friend acrosticunivers got me to thinking about this with his comment mention of Vanilla Fudge's epic psychedelic treatment of The Supremes' hit "You Keep Me Hangin' On." I remembered The Fudge's version of Junior Walker's "Shotgun," a much less successful re-thinking of a soul classic.

I've thought about covers that were huge hits that have always given me that "fingernails on a chalkboard" feeling - The Happenings' treatment of the Gershwin classic "I Got Rhythm."  And Louis Armstrong's "Hello Dolly," much loved - but not by me.

And that brings us to the cover that has always made me cringe the most.... Collapse )
  • Current Music
    The Who, "Summertime Blues"

Covers as Windows into Musicians' Psyches...

Bob Lefsetz, that erstwhile critic of the music scene (whose musical talent is, by his own admission, mastery of playing - the radio, cd player, iPod, etc.) has recently savaged James Taylor for releasing a new album of cover songs. While Lefsetz makes a salient point (as usual) in accusing Taylor of doing the "covers" album for the money (which seems as good a reason to do an album as any in these times), he misses something that maybe one such as I, an actual musician, can enlighten all you lovely readers about - why musicians like to play covers even if they write their own material.

Lefsetz takes Taylor to task, for example, for the obviousness of some of his covers - particularly for covering "Summertime Blues," "Not Fade Away," "Hound Dog," "Wichita Lineman," and "On Broadway." Lefsetz's point that these seem too obvious and motivated more by Taylor's knowledge of what a Boomer audience might want has merit, but it ignores something - these are songs that Taylor probably admired and played for himself over his decades long career. Collapse )
  • Current Music
    Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, "Feel a Whole Lot Better"

Dead Rock Stars Shine Again...

A British tabloid recently conducted a survey to find out which dead rock star the public would most like to see brought back for "one show, one show only."  Here are the results: Collapse )
  • Current Music
    George Harrison, "All Those Years Ago"

Baby, It's You

I heard Smith's version of "Baby, It's You" today while driving back from taking the dogs for a long walk at a local park. You probably don't remember Smith. They were a "one hit wonder," with only the above mentioned song, a hit during the summer of 1969. That was the summer before my senior year in high school.  I had just joined my first serious band - and I went through my first case of being "serious" about a girl.Collapse )
  • Current Music
    Smith, "Baby, It's You"

Good Night, Irene, Goin' Down to the Crossroads...

Most music historians explain the origins of rock music as the gradual blending of Southern blues (both Mississippi Delta based acoustic style and Chicago electrified) with country/western music as codified by Nashville. This over facile explanation has always seemed insufficient - hence the plethora of “(name your)-rock” divisions within rock music - like “rockabilly” (pictured at left being performed by its foremost practitioner).

This week we talk about blues. And about two giants to whom rock, that most “rebellious” of music, owes just about everything….Collapse )

  • Current Music
    Leadbelly, "Midnight Special"