Buzz's Blog

Friday, 30 January 2015

Before The Dawn


I don’t know: maybe all the protest songs have already been written.

Have a listen to Long Time Gone by Crosby Stills and Nash.  Sure, it’s about the assassination of RFK, but it’s about more than that right? 

Turn any corner
Hear what the people say
You know that something is going on around here
It surely, surely, surely won't stand the light of day

Speak out, you got to speak out against the madness
You got to speak your mind
If you dare

RFK spoke out against racism, inequality, a stupid war …  Wow!  That sounds like today.

But why use a 45 year old song – as compelling as it is - to talk about today?  How can that work?  Old fogeys like me will hear it and think about the 60’s.  Younger folk don’t listen to CSN(Y).  Who is singing out about today’s issues?

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Friday, 23 January 2015

There’s Something Happening Here


There is unrest in the land.  Check the headlines.  Turn on the news.  Things are not right, and the people are ticked.

How come, then, Rolling Stone’s 10 Best Protest Songs of All Time has one song from 1992, one from 1975, and 8 songs from the 60’s?  How come Dylan gets on the list four times?  Wait a minute: that’s obvious.

OK, but how come half the songs are about the Vietnam War?  Like nothing bad has gone down since?  No, that’s not true.  Check the headlines.

Is the musical world in denial?  Is its collective head in the sand?

Why are we singing “I’m coming up so you better get this party started,” when “there’s a battle outside and it’s raging?”  I thought art was supposed to imitate life, not avoid it.

Back over to you, Bob, I guess.

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Friday, 16 January 2015

Higher Than The Moon


Have a listen to St. Teresa by Joan Osborne.  Cool, eh?  Trippy video too.

Every time I play it, I think to myself, “Why did she never make another album after Relish?”  One great record, one overwhelming performance in Standing In The Shadows of Motown, then oblivion.

Starting a few months after Relish came out in 1995, I always looked in the Joan Osborne bin whenever I went browsing for CD’s – something I did often.  Always only the one album.

Eventually I gave up, and accepted that I was fated to repeat this sad question to myself every time I heard Joan Osborne.

Then a few weeks ago I remembered that after the album was released, this thing called the Internet exploded into our world, along with this really cool resource called Wikipedia.

So I finally looked up Joan Osborne in Wikipedia and discovered that she hadn’t disappeared at all.  In fact, she’s been very busy.

Damn!  Guess I got a bucketful of lost time to make up for.

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Friday, 9 January 2015

Music in the Cafes at Night; Revolution in the Air


Beale Street, Bleeker Street, Haight-Ashbury, Sunset Strip, Music Row and Motown.

These are the streets that changed music history, according to Rolling Stone - or is it Chrysler?  And of course, by Motown they mean West Grand Boulevard, but we’ll let that slide, shall we?

Elvis, Dylan, The Dead, The Doors, all those Motown hits, all that Country … no one’s gonna argue that some pretty important music came off these streets – and still does.

Here’s another one, though, that’s kind of a glaring omission:  Abbey Road.  A little band called The Beatles made a few hit records there, and I’m told they enjoyed a bit of influence in their day.  Oh, and The Hollies, The Shadows, Pink Floyd, Radiohead and Oasis.

Oh wait a minute!  Guess they don’t get many Dodge Challengers driving around London.

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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Genrification


Speaking of genres (well, I was two posts ago), wasn’t it all so much easier when we though of everything as just pop – or rock ‘n’ roll (take your pick)?

But this genre thing is outta control.

I mean, I get that Easy Listening and Pop and Rock and Folk and R&B and Hip Hop just don’t cross paths too much any more(except maybe on awards shows).  I’m inured to the fact that rock has gone through all this cell division so we’ve got Folk Rock, Punk, Metal, Alternative, Prog, Indie and so on and so on and even more so on.

I’ve slowly come top recognize that we need additional labels such as House and Psychobilly, and Emo and Hardcore.  I guess they serve a purpose.

But brother, when I browse some online music sites, I’m overwhelmed by all these weird genres:  Doom?  Sleaze?  Sadcore?  Red Dirt?

Really?  What are these about?

OK, you can kinda guess what Melodic Death might be like, or Screamo, or Horrorcore, or Trip Hop.  Gothabilly you can almost picture (or hear, I guess).  Ditto Acid Folk, even Swamp.  I think.

And it turns out most ‘em have entries in Wikipedia, so I suppose there’s more than one band doing them.  But simple folk like me have to be enlightened as to why we need Shoegaze, Glitch or Grime.

But some of this sub-genrification is kinda pointless isn’t it?  I mean, Wikipedia defines Street Punk as “a working class-based genre of punk rock.”  Hello?  Was normal Punk something reserved for the upper class?  Like The Sex Pistols gave us music for Toffs?

Maybe some of these bands are just trying to distinguish themselves in ways that don’t involve their actual music.  Maybe they’re having us on.   Noir?  Heartfelt and Lyrical?  Youtube?  Jack Daniels?

I think I need a swig.

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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

Fu-fu-fu-foolin’


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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