Tag Archives: rock and roll

It’s Only the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame…

Don’t you hate it when you look forward to something with great expectations, only to end up supremely disappointed?

As a life-long Red Sox fan I have lived through more than my share of “April hope and October heartbreak” seasons.

The Star Wars prequel movies (for me) failed to meet the hype, along with countless Super Bowls.

And then there was MTV. Video truly did kill the radio star.

But perhaps one of the biggest let downs I can remember has got to be The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

To say I was excited when the announcement came in 1993 about the construction of The Hall would be a huge understatement. They hadn’t even broken ground yet and I was already looking forward to visiting.

The inductees in the years leading up to the construction of the Hall were, let’s face it, predictable. Every R&R staple from Chuck Berry to The Beatles to Van Morrison was a member, and rightfully so. Nobody could be disappointed about such legends being enshrined, even if only on paper.

This tradition continued for the first five years after the hall opened, and there were very few surprises.

It wasn’t until the class of 2001 was announced that I began to question the decisions of those in charge of selections. Don’t get me wrong…Aerosmith, Paul Simon and Steely Dan were no-brainers.

But Michael Jackson???

I know the king of pop has a ton of fans out there, and most of them probably think I should just shut up and go home, but I’m sorry…Michael Jackson?

It’s the “Rock and Roll” Hall of Fame…not the “Catchy Pop Tunes for 12 Year Old Girls to Dance To” Hall of Fame.

For the record, I am not – in any way, saying that Michael didn’t make good music…there are a few of his songs that get my toe tapping. However – it is not the stuff of legend nor is it rock and roll.

Subsequent inductees added to my bewilderment…Madonna, ABBA, The Beastie Boys, Donna Summer, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Dolly Parton…How are any of these people inducted before the likes of Jethro Tull, The J. Geils Band, Mott the Hoople, The New York Dolls and Warren Zevon???

The answer is obvious, (well, at least to me) they (the people who make the decisions at the hall) know that they have to appeal to the post-MTV generations. They know that that the number of classic, relevant, legitimate rock and roll legends worthy of induction is dwindling rapidly and they know that there are more people who recognize the names Madonna and Whitney than those who remember Mott and Jethro.

So, they’ve done the only thing they could think of…they’ve gradually shifted the requirements for eligibility from a performer’s contribution to rock and roll to their mainstream popularity.

Which brings us to this year’s nominees…

Eligible for induction in 2023 are:

  • Kate Bush
  • Sheryl Crow
  • Missy Elliott
  • Iron Maiden
  • Joy Division/New Order
  • Cyndi Lauper
  • George Michael
  • Willie Nelson
  • Rage Against the Machine
  • Soundgarden
  • The Spinners
  • A Tribe Called Quest
  • The White Stripes
  • Warren Zevon

I know I’m going to alienate people, but right off the bat – Missy Elliot, George Michael and Willie Nelson should be eliminated based on the fact that their music is not rock and roll.

Also undeserving are Kate Bush (let’s face it – she has one song and it just won’t go away), Iron Maiden, Joy Division/New Order, Rage Against the Machine, Soundgarden, A Tribe Called Quest and The White Stripes – based on the fact that they just aren’t that great.

The Hall of Fame should be filled with game-changers. Legends. The ones whose absence would leave a void in the rock and roll landscape.

That leaves us with Sheryl Crow, Cyndi Lauper, The Spinners, and Warren Zevon.

Of those nominees, if I were on the selection committee, Warren Zevon is the only one I’d vote for. Maybe Sheryl Crow. I’d be on the fence about The Spinners too. Cyndi Lauper had a couple of catchy tunes, but she was largely a product of MTV, so I’m sorry…maybe next year.

Before you leave a comment telling me that I sound like a cranky old boomer, save it. I already know this. I don’t deny that my opinion of rock began dwindling in the 90s, and in the last ten or fifteen years there has been very little to get excited about.

I guess when you grow up in an atmosphere that produced the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, etc – where it seemed that there was no such thing as a bad band – you get a little spoiled.

I won’t apologize for being raised on a diet of steak and potatoes – then complaining when they try to serve me a big mac and fries.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should be an exclusive night club with a velvet rope and a huge bouncer at the door. Instead it’s turning into a dive bar with a $5 cover charge. Pretty soon the only requirement for entrance will be having played music in a bar.

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Bohemian Rhapsody…Just See It

The band Queen never appealed to me to the extent where I would say I loved them…or even really liked them.

They had several songs I liked quite a bit, a few that I didn’t mind and some that I would tolerate because I was too lazy to change the station or switch to another song.

On my radio program (Friday nights from 7pm-10pm on 97.3 FM – FlaglerBeachRadio.com) I throw in a Queen song every now and then because I know that there are listeners out there who really enjoy them.

With all that being said, I will now tell you that the movie Bohemian Rhapsody is a must see not only for those who have a Queen tattoo, but for the casual fan as well.

The hard-core Queen fans will love it no matter what I say about it, so I’m really directing this review at those who think “That’s the band with the gay guy who sang that song from Wayne’s World, right?”

Right. That’s who they are, but there’s a lot more to their story and Bohemian Rhapsody shows it by going far beyond another “rockumentary”.

It’s not done in the style of an A&E “tell-all”. There’s no grainy backstage footage overdubbed by a monochromatic voice describing the highs and lows of the band, and there are no interviews with groupies, roadies or record company execs revealing the band’s best-kept secrets.

What you get, instead, is a movie.

If you had never heard of Queen before, you would think it was a movie about a fictitious band from England who struggled to make it and eventually did. Naturally, they have setbacks and stumbling blocks, but the picture is so well made that you find yourself getting lost in the story regardless of your opinion and knowledge of the band and its history.

Naturally, the story revolves around charismatic front man Freddie Mercury and the way he took the band from total obscurity to superstardom nearly overnight.

I assume (although I could be wrong) that some of this was exaggerated to make things more interesting, either way…it’s a gripping rags-to-riches story.

The acting is near flawless, led by a brilliant performance by Rami Malek as Mercury. At times you are convinced you’re actually watching Mercury.

The casting for the other band members is also well done to the point where actor Gwilym Lee could actually pass for Brian May.

I have read other reviews which panned Bohemian Rhapsody on the grounds that the writers tip-toed around Freddie Mercury’s sexuality and his contraction of AIDs.

I disagree with those reviews.

I think the matter was handled well. As you watch the movie you are well aware of what’s going on in Mercury’s life without being subjected to gratuitous sex scenes.

Finally, there is the music.

As I stated earlier, I have never been a huge fan of the band’s music, but after watching the movie and getting a better feel for the band as four guys from England, as opposed to the members of one of the biggest rock bands of the 70s, I am going to re-examine their music with a more open ear.

I’m pretty sure I won’t regret it.

One final thought…don’t wait for Rhapsody to be released on DVD or NetFlix…see it on the big screen.

It’s well worth it.

 

As always – thank you for reading

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The Hammer of the Gods Strikes Again

If you had told me in 1978, when I was first bathed in the light that is Led Zeppelin, that I would one day watch a symphony orchestra perform their music I would have laughed (and then maybe hit you).

If you had told me that, not only would I watch it, but I would actually enjoy it, we probably would have skipped the laughing and gone right to the hitting.

Well, I’m glad you didn’t tell me either of those things, because we avoided some awkward moments back then and I won’t have to eat any Humble Pie (the metaphorical food, not the band) today, because both statements came true on November 21, 2015 at the Peabody Auditorium in Daytona Beach when I saw The Music of Led Zeppelin: A Rock Symphony as performed by The Windborne Symphony Orchestra.

Music of Led Zeppelin

The orchestra was accompanied by a five piece rock band consisting of Randy Jackson – Vocals, Dan Clemens – Bass, Powell Randolph – Drums, George Cintron – Guitar, and Allegra – Electric Violin.

The Band

So imagine, if you can, a Led Zeppelin cover band made up of five top-shelf musicians along with a full orchestra blasting out Black Dog, The Immigrant Song and The Ocean (along with 15 other Zeppelin staples).

If I were to write a review of the show it would consist mostly of words like awesome, amazing, phenomenal, mind-blowing, transcendental, awe-inspiring, majestic, tremendous…well, you get the point.

I’m not a music critic so I can’t tick off a list of specific reasons I loved it, I can only tell you that I did. It was as close to a religious experience as I’ve ever had. The regular band and the orchestra meshed so perfectly that it was hard to imagine the music being played any other way – and that is no exaggeration.

On a scale of one to ten, with one being my brother and me trying to play Zeppelin on two guitars plugged into the same amp, and ten being the actual band, I’ll go down the list…

Vocals – eight and a half (Let’s face it, Robert Plant is rock royalty – but Randy is at least a Prince)

Music of LZ

Guitar – eight (If guitar were painting, Jimmy Page is Rembrandt, Picasso and DaVinci – George clocks in at a solid Van Gogh).

Bass – eight (John Paul Jones’ bass playing was like a delicately subtle freight train – Dan is most certainly on the same set of tracks)

Drums – eight and a half (John Bonham’s drumming made thunder feel inadequate – Powell didn’t do much for its ego either)

Electric Violin – nine and three quarters. (I can’t make a Led Zeppelin comparison for Allegra, which is fitting – she was in a class all by herself.)

music of LZ 2

So, if you did the math you’ll see that the band came in at a solid B+ average. Hardly worth all this raving…right?

Wrong.

Remember the orchestra?

I don’t know how many pieces there were, but 40 is probably pretty close, and they were flawless. Nothing short of an A+.

Combined with the band they brought the house down.

After the third song Randy spoke a little to the audience, saying how Led Zeppelin made rock music “big”…and the reason for having an orchestra was to make it “bigger” – then they launched into Kashmir and I forgot my name.

music of LZ 4

I should tell you that I never had the opportunity to see Led Zeppelin live (watching The Song Remains the Same doesn’t count), so I won’t be so presumptuous to say that this event was as good as the real thing.

I will say, without reservation that it was certainly the next best thing.

The show was scheduled to begin at 7:30 – and if you’ve ever been to a rock concert you know that the start time on your ticket is an approximation at best. It’s also the start time of the opening act.

This show had no opening act and at 7:29 the house lights dimmed, the conductor walked onto the stage and at 7:30 (give or take five seconds) the orchestra tore into Good Times, Bad Times.

What I experienced over the next two hours went as far toward filling that 37-year-old live Led Zeppelin void as anything could have.

Over the years I’ve seen my fair share of bands, but my concert bucket list will never be completed because there is no chance of ever seeing Led Zeppelin or The Beatles.

However…I will now put a check mark (and an asterisk) next to Zeppelin.

music of Led Zeppelin

One down, one to go.

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What Skeletons are in Your Musical Closet?

I was raised on rock and roll.

Being born in 1960, and having four older brothers who were already teenagers, well on their way to becoming full-blown hippies, my musical education began while my peers were still enjoying the tune played by their jack-in-the-box.

I was the only kid in my third-grade class to know who Jimi Hendrix was.  hendrix woodstock

I had trouble understanding why the rest of my friends didn’t know about Woodstock, and I could sing Born on the Bayou like nobody’s business (today, not so much).

It’s safe to say that my taste in music is predominantly rock and roll…or classic rock if you want to be more specific, but as I grew older my tastes expanded. In my early twenties I discovered the blues (which would also include soul and R&B). As I approached thirty I took a liking to jazz and classical and during my forties I got into country. rock and roll

I can honestly say that I at least try to appreciate all forms of music to some degree.

I’m not a really big fan of rap, mostly because I think it is often inspired by anger, hatred and violence – three things for which I have no use in my life. Even still, there are some examples of rap that I do appreciate and enjoy.

Disco…since dancing and the whole nightclub scene was never really high on my list of favorite things, I never had much use for it, but again, I have developed a taste for a small sampling of disco songs.

I also enjoy some good funk.

airplane disco

So, with all that being said, there is another category of music I think we all share…something that goes beyond “like and dislike.”

Each of us has music we like, and we’re usually not ashamed to talk about it. Likewise music we dislike, and these we are usually less ashamed to advertise.

There is a third category…the one we keep to ourselves…the one we refuse to acknowledge…the one we hope nobody finds out about.

I call it “skeleton music” – as in the skeleton(s) in your musical closet.

teach them to dance

A friend of mine is a huge metal fan, which is not only to say he is a fan in a huge way, but also that he is a huge guy. To look at him you’d think he would just as soon kick your puppy as look at you (he wouldn’t, but he looks like he would). Somehow, during a recent conversation, he revealed to me that he loves Bon Jovi. He even told me a story about him standing in line at Dunkin Donuts singing a Bon Jovi song out loud while he scanned the menu…drawing some pretty interesting looks from the other patrons.

Yet he doesn’t talk openly about his “secret affair” with Jon and the boys…

Why?

I don’t know, but to paraphrase the famous Life cereal commercial – “I’m not gonna ask him – you ask him.”

On a nine hour road trip with some friends back in the early 90s (all guys) we were in a remote part of Pennsylvania where there weren’t many radio stations available, so we were forced to listen to an Easy Listening station.

Imagine our surprise when one of the guys started quietly singing along with Barry Manilow’s I Write the Songs.

After several miles of relentless torment from the rest of us, he finally copped to it (but, not before trying to blame his mother for listening to it so often that the lyrics were embedded in his brain).

“Hey,” he said in his own defense. “I don’t like him, I just think this is a good song.”

A co-worker of mine was born and raised in Nassau. Naturally, being from the islands his musical tastes lean heavily toward reggae with a healthy scattering of R&B and rap. He also has a fondness for 80s synth-pop.

One day a few of us were having a discussion about old time TV shows when somebody mentioned Hee-Haw. My island-native friend’s brain wasn’t fast enough to censor his own response…he blurted his love for the music on the show and even confessed to begging his parents to buy him a banjo when he was eight-years-old. (They didn’t, but if they had he would have been a pioneer of the rasta-billy scene.)

hee haw

When he saw the looks on our faces (mostly stunned confusion) he laughed and tried to pull the old “just kidding” defense – unsuccessfully.

They say confession is good for the soul, so here goes…

Despite my love of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Willie Dixon, Miles Davis, Dwight Yoakam and Mozart…when I’m alone in the car I will crank the hell out of an ABBA song (until I get to a stop light).

abba

There, I said it.

I’m out.

Laugh if you will – but they have some great songs! (I even attended a live performance of Mama-Mia in Rhode Island and was blown away!)

So what are the skeletons in your musical closet?

Come on – you can share it with us, we’re all friends here…

 

As always – thank you for reading

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What a Night for an Interview – Steve Boone of The Lovin’ Spoonful

Did you ever have to make up your mind?

That wasn’t meant as a question…it was my way of cleverly introducing this post.

Baby-boomers and rock-and-roll fans of all ages probably sang the words while they read them…or they’re humming the tune right now (and probably will be for the next few hours).

Most of you know who sang them back in 1966, or you used to know, but the band’s name is on the tip of your tongue.

For the record…it was The Lovin’ Spoonful.

The Spoonful had a pretty impressive run between ’65 and ’68 which included seven Top 10 hits and another seven in the Top 100.

You might say they were hotter than a match head

They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000

Like many bands they also had their trials and tribulations…

Tomorrow night (Friday October 31, 2014) on my radio program I will have the bass player from the Spoonful – Steve Boone – live in the studio with me.

B Sides cover

We’ll be talking about all kinds of stuff, and playing some music in-between topics – beginning at 7:00 pm EST.

Tune in if you believe in magic…

spoonful 2

For those of you in Flagler Beach – you can listen on 97.3 FM and for the rest of the world, join us on the internet at www.flaglerbeachradio.com – you can also listen on your mobile device using the TuneIn app and searching Surf 97.3 FM.

If you’d like to ask Steve a question jump over to facebook and post it on the Tim Baker’s B-Sides, Deep Cuts and Cool Covers page.

 

As always – thank you for reading (and listening)

spoonful

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