Buzz's Blog

Friday, 19 December 2014

If You Want It

    'nough said.

Friday, 12 December 2014

I Can Sense It From A Mile

Go have a listen to Pete Townshend’s Secondhand Love.

Nice, eh?  What would you call that?  Rock?  Blues?  R&B?

All the above and then some, right?  Sometimes great songs exemplify a genre.  Sometimes they defy categorization.

Who cares?  Great music is great music.

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Friday, 5 December 2014

Let’s Go Crazy

I don’t know about pop’s greatest year (that honour would have to land somewhere around 1966 give or take a year or two), but Rolling Stone’s 100 Best Singles of 1984 definitely disproves the assertion that the 80’s were a musical wasteland.

Yes, you’ve got your abundance of Europop (some good, some bad; you decide which is which), like Dead or Alive, Wham!  Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Culture Club, or The Eurythmics.

Or you’ve got your hair bands, some of which didn’t quite stand the test of time (again, you decide which ones), like Scorpion, Ratt, Bon Jovi or Def Leppard.

You’ve also got a healthy reminder that R&B was alive and well thank you very much, thanks to Hall & Oates, Huey Lewis, Sade and Tina Turner.

Then there’s folks who did a great job riding the punk/new wave pop rock thing, like The Cars, Billy Idol, Cyndi Lauper, or Mellencamp.

And of course there are the giants of the decade: Prince, Michael Jackson, Madonna, The Police and U2.

But, you also have blasts from the past, as it were, with entries from Springsteen, Genesis, Van Halen, ZZ Top, Elton John, and McCartney.  Heck, even John Lennon has a posthumous release on the list.

So, notwithstanding 99 Luftballons, there are a lot of fabulous tunes here.  And you know, I had almost as many of these records as I had for the Top 100 of 1966.

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Friday, 28 November 2014

Come On Baby The Laugh’s On Me

Dunno ‘bout you, but I always find a song with a bit of humour in it refreshing.  Not comedy.  Just songs that have a humourous line or two, maybe a bit of self-deprecation, something that says, ”Hey! Don’t take this too seriously.”

The Kinks were pretty good that way.  Ditto Steve Miller, Dire Straits, Ian Thomas and Joe Walsh (The Eagles, not so much).  Tom Petty excels at it.  George Harrison was a master.

Then there are the Stones doing country.  They seem to be screaming, “This is a joke!” to the point where it borders on comedy.  But they’re so darn good at it you’re not sure whether the joke is on you.

Anyway, even though rock ‘n’ roll itself – as Mark Shipper says – is a joke, it can cover some pretty heavy ground, so a little comic relief here and there is welcome.

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Friday, 21 November 2014


I still remember going out and buying my first VCR so I could record The Who’s farewell concert, which was simulcast from Maple Leaf Gardens in December, 1982.

Turns out they didn’t mean it – and still don’t since they’re already advertising their 50th anniversary tour scheduled for 2015.  Well, half The Who anyway.

The Who were not alone in giving us a long goodbye, as Rolling Stone’s 10 Farewell Tours That Didn’t Stick makes clear.  Judas Priest, Kiss, Cher … heck, even Sinatra couldn’t resist the temptation to give ‘er one more go.  Well, if we’re going to buy the tickets, why not?

It’s probably a good thing that we did get fooled again.  Between farewell tours,  re-union tours and why-should-I-stop(?) tours, a fair amount of joy has been spread through the land in the last couple of decades.

Anyway, it gives us a good excuse to wear those “Still Pissed At Yoko” tee shirts.

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Friday, 14 November 2014

I Put A Time Bomb In Your Submarine

Let’s play a game.  Picture a band doing a long jam that kinda summarizes everything that’s au courant, you know, everything that’s going on around them.

OK, when I say au courant, I mean sometime around 1970, since that’s about where I’m stuck.

Anyway, imagine them doing a really good job, so good that you find yourself thinking, “gee, that bit could be Zeppelin, and that bit sounds like The Moody Blues, hmm was that Cream or Deep Purple, maybe Black Sabbath?”

I came up with Alice Cooper’s Halo of Flies.  How about you?

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Friday, 31 October 2014

His Hair Was Perfect

Forget candy.  Forget schlocky horror flicks.

What you really need for Halloween is some kitsch, some funk, some pop, a couple of legendary riffs, and some butt-kicking rock.  Something like Billboard’s Top 10 Halloween Songs.  Go ahead and be thrilled.

Happy Halloween.

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Friday, 24 October 2014

No One Here Gets Out Alive

In each of the six decades since the birth of rock and roll, you can find some magic, and you can shake your head and wonder how anybody could listen to such rubbish. 

But for me, the 70’s is the big enigma.  Some of the best rock, much of it indelibly stamped into the concrete of our collective consciousness, was made in that decade.  And I couldn’t do without it.  But it was a confusing decade, one with little or no direction, a time of extremes and excesses.

Hard rock, prog rock, power pop, funk, metal, disco, jazz fusion, punk, folk-rock, singer-songwriter … and the leisure suits.  Brother.

The 70’s were not kind to a lot of 60’s icons.  The Stones, Clapton, and The Who, for example, all had their moments, but really they drifted through with mixed results.  Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd triumphantly pushed through, and then collapsed at the finish line.  Deep Purple didn’t make it.  The Beatles and Hendrix didn’t even get out of the starting block.

The energy that began as punk and coalesced into New Wave was certainly welcome.  It brought some much-needed focus to all that aimless thrashing about.  To borrow from Rossini’s invective against Wagner, the 70’s had wonderful moments, and dreadful quarters of an hour.

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Friday, 17 October 2014

Whole Lotta Riffs

The beat: definitely.  The energy: probably.  The simplicity: most of the time.  The lyrics: often.  The audacity: goes without saying.  But what really sets a great rock song apart is the riff.  The hook that buries itself into your DNA, where it forevermore acts as a switch, a trigger, a hypnotist’s command.

BBC Radio’s Greatest Guitar Riffs have most of the ones you’d expect: Whole Lotta Love, Sweet Child O’ Mine, Back In Black, Smoke On The Water and Layla landing in the top 5.  Can’t really argue with those.

And as you scan down the list, you realize – joyfully, I’ll bet – just how much great music we’ve been blessed with.  Dire Straits, Pink Floyd, Hendrix, Chuck Berry, Rush, Free, Fleetwood Mac, Cream … on and on it goes.  I can’t think of one riff on this list that doesn’t deserve to be here.

However, it is nothing short of shocking that the Stones and Beatles have only one entry each.  Nice of the BBC to spread the joy, but I can think of another dozen or so riffs from those two groups that are more than worthy.  Nevermind.  I’ll get over it.

Sad, though, that there’s nothing current.  Rock riffs seem to have gone the way of the dodo, and that is not a good thing.

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Thursday, 2 October 2014

Almost Fab

Speaking of songs that shoulda been recorded by The Beatles, there have been quite a few down through the years that engendered a “that’s a Beatles tune” reaction.  For me, anyway.

Sometimes it’s the melody, sometimes the chords, or the overall feel, or the sound of the singer’s voice.  It can vary.  It happened a lot in 70-71 when I was, like many (most?) people, still ticked about their breakup.

Examples include:
Cheap Trick’s If You Want My Love You Got It
Argent’s Hold Your Head Up
Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street, and his Steeler’s Wheel’s Stuck In The Middle With You
America’s Goldenhair – guess that was the George Martin production?
Yes’s Love Will Find A Way
Pretty much everything by Badfinger

Then of course, you had the solo work by the four fabs.  On the stronger songs, you couldn’t help but wish for a better backup band.  Well, I couldn’t anyway.

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