Monday, 21 October 2013


Gibson’s 10 Great Rock Instrumentals nicely illustrates at least one reason why instrumentals tend not to be as popular as songs: there are no words to sing along to, so that melody had better be extremely catchy.

Here’s the list:
Beck Bolero – Beck, Page et al
Black Mountain Side – Led Zeppelin
Jessica – Allman Brothers
Sparks – The Who
Rebel Rouser – Duanne Eddy
Frankenstein – Edgar Winter Group
Walk Don’t Run – The Ventures
Maggot Brain – Funkadelic
Mood for a Day – Steve Howe
Eruption – Van Halen

Make that two reasons:  you can’t dance to a lot of this stuff.  I mean, Mood for a Day is an impressive display of virtuosity, but does it get your toes tapping?

Maybe there are three reasons.  There’s a line somewhere that divides “appreciation” and “participation.  You listen to and appreciate a Brahms symphony or well-done bit of prog rock.  You sing along to a good folk song.  Pop/soul/rock ‘n’ roll?  You get up and dance while you’re singing.  While you might appreciate all the pieces on this list, you’re only going to participate in a couple of ‘em.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Do It When You Wanna

Go have a listen to Led Zeppelin’s For Your Life.

Feeling better?  Betcha are.

Monday, 14 October 2013

From These Failing Hands

You can’t develop a style without studying someone who came before, says Gibson’s 10 Guitar Greats and Their Influences.  Truth.

Surprising revelations, though.  OK, so Zakk Wylde digs Randy Rhoads, and Joe Bonanassa adores Paul Kossoff, and – duh – Derek Trucks was influenced by Duane Allman.  And Clapton and Beck get mentioned more than once.

But Slash was influenced by Cat Stevens and Cheap Trick?  Trucks was into Coltrane?  Townshend thinks he sounds like John Lee Hooker?  Frampton practiced Shadows tunes?  Holy b string.

What surprises me, though, is that not many of these guys seem to go back very far.  Most of the influences were immediate, the stuff heard when they were growing up.  One reference each to Scotty Moore, Chet Atkins and Jimmy Burton.  Only Hooker and Elmore James mentioned from the 50’s Blues greats.

No T-Bone Walker, no Freddie King?  no BB?  no Lightning Hopkins, Son House or Robert Johnson?  No Chuck Berry?  Are you kidding? 

Frampton mentions Django Reinhardt, but no one seems to be digging into the past to learn where their heroes learned their stuff.  That is indeed curious.  I mean, how do you study your idol and try to understand what they’re doing without studying what they were trying to understand?

It’s a short article so maybe lots got edited out.  I hope so, ‘cause it feels like we’re loosing our connections with the past, and that would not be a good thing.  Music has changed rapidly over the last half century, and most of it has been exciting and positive.  But it was also built on a solid foundation that goes back countless generations.

If we lose that the thrill will be gone.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Pretzel Logic

I have doubtless made it clear by now that I preferred Cream over Led Zeppelin, and Clapton over Page, but have I ever explained why I like Led Zeppelin I better than any Cream album?

That’s because I can’t.

Monday, 7 October 2013

You Know My Name

So I stumbled on Rolling Stone’s 13 Dumbest Names in Rock History list and figured it would be a romp.  You know, Toad the Wet Sprocket, that sort of thing.

But Dave Matthews Band?  Why pick on poor Dave?  Why not Steve Miller, Jeff Beck or Charlie Daniels?  OK, maybe it lacks originality, but it makes it clear who the leader is and all that.

But whoa!  The Beatles are on this list?  A band pun?  No deep hidden meaning?  No wisdom?  Huh?

We’re punishing The Beatles because the name lacks wisdom?  Like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple and The Cars offered new insights into life with their names?  Excuse me?

1910 Fruitgum Compamy.  Strawberry Alarm Clock.  Creedence Clearwater Revival    we have options here, people.  Viable options.

Okay, okay, so I know I’m a tad biased about all things Beatles, so I googled bad/stupid/dumb band names, and found that Rolling Stone followed this list up with a Readers’ Poll on The Dumbest Band Names of All Time, and found The Beatles there too.  The google search yielded a bunch of lists, and The Beatles was on most of them.

All I can think is that these lists were created by people under 50.   If you were there, you remember that everything The Beatles did was cool.  Everything.  We all knew the name was a little silly, but they did it, so it was cool.  Simple as that.

Look up the number.

Friday, 4 October 2013

That Was Only Yesterday

Every time I hear War Pigs on the radio, I think, why is this happening?  Is that the best they can do?

I mean, I know Paranoid had an impact when it came out, and all that, but in my corner of suburban Canada, Black Sabbath enjoyed only a minor popularity.  There were many more copies around of records by the likes of Humble Pie, Spooky Tooth, Wishbone Ash, Spirit, Rory Gallagher, Savoy Brown and Uriah Heep.

Sure, Ozzy enjoyed an elongated solo career, and that allows for some revisionism.  And, no, I’m not a Sabbath fan, but really, check out some of the aforementioned bands.  There are far too many great bands that have had their entire canons reduced to one or two songs by classic rock radio.  And these bands don’t get any airplay at all! 

It’s a dreammare, brother.  It’s a ride on a hellbound train.  Those radio cats are withholding a lot of great music, and it’s got me feelin’ bad.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

8 Miles High

Well, why not?  40 Great Stoner Albums, a list of albums Rolling Stone says are “great for blazing along, but also great when you’re not high as a giraffe.”

Item one:  I’m no stoner.  I only owned 3 of the 40 albums listed, and I only recognized 14 album titles in total.  Tons of bands/artists I had never heard of!  I kinda always thought that drug and pop culture weren’t that far apart, and that you didn’t need to partake to get it.  Maybe I’m wrong.

Item two:  item one aside, I wonder if all these records are for stoners, or if some of them are just by people who were stoned.  David Crosby’s, If I Could Only Remember My Name, for example.

Item three:  Rock & Roll is an interstellar escape pod?  Pardon?  What does that mean, exactly?  I must be straighter than I thought.

Item four:  there is no item four.  Still trying to deal with item one.  I mean, I expected to see one or two blues greats, maybe Cream, Zeppelin, Dylan, The Byrds, Neil Young, Deep Purple (Mark I), Donovan, Tull, one of the 70’s Brit prog bands, someone from California other than The Dead …  Just three albums (Axis, Dark Side and Rubber Soul).  Sheesh!

Maybe I need to take a dreadlock holiday.