Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Time For A Critical Re-Evaluation?

There are some bands that, when they first came out, were critically scorned but adored by millions (in most cases) of fans worldwide. Some have been releasing albums under the radar to little or no fanfare, some have maintained their popularity and others have faded away. History, for the majority of these bands, has not been kind and many are currently residing in the "Where are they now and who cares anyway?" files.

I believe that some of these bands deserved a little better.

Perhaps now that enough time has passed we can re-evaluate and listen with different, less biased ears. Perhaps these bands deserved their fate. I have my own opinions, so I'll let you be the judge.

The Monkees
The Stranglers
The BeeGees
Joe Jackson
Electric Light Orchestra
Big Star
Thomas Dolby
Simple Minds
Alice Cooper (up 'till 1980, anyway!)
Aztec Camera
The Cars
Gordon Lightfoot
Harry Nilsson
John Mellencamp
Neil Diamond
Sigue Sigue Sputnik

Well...what say you?


Phil Fountain said...

OK, Unc, The Monkees went on to do "Pleasant Valley Sunday" and songs about their "aunties." Somebody let Peter Tork sing...they sucked.
I can't speak to Sputnik, Mellencamp, Dolby, Alice and others. I never listened to them. I had what is commonly referred to as "taste."
Harry Nilsson? Cut him some slack, he knew the Beatles.
Other than that...

God, I love leaving snotty comments on your blog, it makes me feel so, so, so...ALIVE!!!

Thanks Unc.

Hal Johnson said...

The Monkees recorded one of my very favorite songs, Michael Murphy's "What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?" And heck, they introduced American concert goers to Jimi Hendrix when they invited him to open for them during a concert tour. Bless their hearts.

Uncle E said...

Hal, thank you very much for your restrained and educated response. I really appreciate it.

And Phil, what would one of my posts be without a scatological, snarky comment from Redding's own resident cynic?
"Other dogs bite their enemies, I bite my friends to save them."--Philbert, 1998

ThomG said...

Nay to BeeGees and Aztec Camera. Yay to everything else. I would toss in Van Halen (David Lee Roth era) and Cheap Trick.

Uncle E said...

Cheap Trick totally slipped my mind, but you're right!
And Van Halen...the first album for sure, after that things start to get a wee bit fuzzy...

Holly A Hughes said...

Joe Jackson--underrated? Not by me. I absolutely adore the man, for his genre- and gender-defying sensibilities. Putting aside his extraordinary gifts as a pianist, he's Cole Porter reincarnated, filtered through a New Wave sensibility--and he writes some of the most searing, insightful lyrics I know.

Please permit me also stand up for my fellow Hoosier John Mellencamp. A very easy target, thanks to his go-good Farm Aid activities, and the fact that he sold a song to Chevrolet to use on their commericials. So boo-hoo, you don't like cars--what if you live in small-town Indiana where there's no public transit? "Jack and Diane" is such an iconic American song, for that alone he should get in the R&R Hall of Fame. He has been working with absolute integrity for over 30 years, and anyone who looks down on him is a knee-jerk music snob. (I'll admit, it took me years to get clear on this point.)

The Monkees I simply adore, but I still giggle and swoon when I think of Davy Jones singing "Sometime in the Morning," so I guess I'm not reliable on that score.

Holly A Hughes said...

[Just looked at the list again...}

BIG STAR??? Do you not know that Alex Chilton is a rock 'n' roll god? Also a nutjob, I suspect, but the two go hand in hand.

And I will admit that I love Queen. There, you know the worst about me. Throw out the dumb stadium-rock anthems like We Are the Champions and We Will Rock You, and you've actually got a witty, tight band who could merge opera bouffe with heavy metal riffs and never blink an eye. Freddy Mercury was a born showman with a delicious outre sensibility, and he was NEVER BORING. Can you say the same about the Rolling Stones? I think not...

Uncle E said...

Ashamed to admit I just got into Big Star about 2 years ago. If you like them, might want to try some Teenage Fanclub (terrible name, excellent band).
I totally concur with your assessment of Joe Jackson as well. Power pop, ska/ reggae, jazz, lounge sophisto-pop... the guy is a wonder.
And I've always had a soft spot for Mr. Mellencamp, so you're not alone. A "poor man's Springsteen", indeed!

Holly A Hughes said...

Well, I'd call Springsteen a rich man's Mellencamp--and leave it at that.

Teenage Fanclub I have tried to like, but so far they've failed to grow on me, and I can't understand why. On your recommendation, I will give them another try.

Greg Pate said...

I agree, sir, with your pick "The Cars." They were the first rock band I ever really started to dig, thanks to my college roommate Bill H. (Yes, I was/am a late bloomer.) And let's not forget Ric Ocasek's appearance in the original "Hairspray." See? The Cars are multi-dimensional!

Phil Fountain said...

"Springsteen the rich man's Mellencamp?"
If that's true, the very fabric of space and time will simply have to dissolve into the ether and everything we can see, taste, touch and hear will be forced to implode and vanish into the abyss. God will admit the whole thing was just a bad joke and he's sorry it went on so long but he knew there was no hope for humankind once it was determined that "Springsteen is the rich man's Mellencamp."

Do I need to remind you he once asked us to refer to him as John Cougar. That's right, John COUGAR. He even put it on the front of album covers. Seriously, he really did.

I rest my case.

-Pete Puma

P.S. - Come to think of it, it's probably more accurate to call John COUGAR Mellencamp "Indiana's Bob Seger."

P.S.S. - I'm not usually this snarky. I'm actually a nice guy. Well, maybe not nice, but not this snarky. I think its the weather. Please be patient with me. Thank you.

Holly A Hughes said...

Wellll, my remark was more to put down Springsteen's faux populism, but take it as you will.

I love the fact that he used to be called John Cougar--kinda like a high school girl dotting her i's with hearts. Look, he was a hungry kid who had a shot at fame, and somebody told him no one would go for a rocker with a long German name--so he changed it. (I believe the Cougars were his high school mascot.) So how come that's bad for him and not bad for Joey Ramone? or Sid Vicious? And at least Mellencamp had the grace to change it once he'd realized that the rock-star machine was sucking out his soul. I don't see David Bowie going back to being called Davy Jones. Even Elvis Costello hasn't had the nerve to go entirely back to being Declan MacManus.

Personally I still think of him as Johnny Cougar from time to time. It's one of the things that makes me love him even more.

And what have you got against Bob Seger? (There's another name that should have been on your list, Uncle.)

Holly Rocket

Uncle E said...

You go, girl!

Phil Fountain said...

John Meelencamp? Bob Seger? Let's compare. The Coog vs. The Silver Bullet:

1. They are both from the midwest.
2. They both write soundtracks for Chevy ads.
3. They both secretly tape Meat Loaf's phone calls for song ideas.
4. The Coog was once replaced on tour by the guy who played the actor on "Taxi." No one noticed.
5. Seger once visited the set of "Joanie Meets Chachi" and was introduced to Scott Baio. Scott Baio was never seen again.
6. Seger once opened for Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels. Ryder was never seen again — but suddenly The Silver Bullet could play the guitar. Coincidence?
7. John Cougar stinks at basketball. How can he possibly be from Indiana?
8. The Coog was seen backstage at a Springsteen show. With a push broom.
9. The Silver Bullet was also spotted backstage at a Bruce gig, the buffet was never seen again.
10. Mellencamp had once asked Clarence Clemons for his autograph. The Big Man thought he was signing for pizza delivery.

We could go on, but you get the gist. By the way, here are the rules for Being A Music Snob:

1. Remember, if you don't like it, it must suck.
2. Never, ever admit you could be wrong. Music Snobs are NEVER wrong.
3. The Ramones are better than Styx, Foreigner and Peter Frampton COMBINED.
4. If a band is named after an American city or state. They suck. (i.e. Chicago, Kansas, Boston et al.)
5. If it sold more than 500,000 copies, it sucked. (Unless it was The Beatles, Dylan, Stones. Springsteen, Van The Man, etc.)
6. If you haven't heard of them, they're a music snob's favorite.
7. The Velvet Underground was better than 99.9% of whatever is in your record collection. Except for the Velvet Underground records.
8. Iggy Pop is cooler than Billy Idol. I don't know why exactly, it's just the way it is.
9. Stiv Bators is cooler than Jim Croce. Sometimes, it IS all in how you die.
10. There is absolutely no point in arguing with a music snob. They are assholes. But, their record collection beats the shit of yours.

I hope this has been helpful.

Uncle E said...

From October 16th, 1992 Bob Dylan tribute concert:
"John Mellencamp, who's been covering "Like A Rolling Stone" in concert for years, bravely took on the Dylan classic early in the show and delivered a fairly faithful and altogether convincing cover featuring strong vocal help from Pat Peterson and Sue Medley. Joining Mellencamp and his excellent band for the event on organ was Al Kooper, reprising his prominent part from Dylan's 1965 original, which was voted the best single of the last 25 years by "Rolling Stone" in 1988. Mellencamp -- whose been instrumental in the activities of Farm Aid, which Dylan helped inspire with his onstage comments at Live Aid, and who directed Dylan's "Political World" music video in 1989 -- was also in fine form for a rousing, bluesy "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" from 1966's "Blonde On Blonde"."
Now, Philbert, I heard that Mr. Dylan was quite moved by the performance.


Holly A Hughes said...

Thanks for the music snob's credo, Phil. You're doing very well on points 1, 2, and 10 -- congratulations!

Wanna have a go at the BeeGees? Or Neil Diamond? I have been known to sing along with "Solitary Man" when it comes on the car radio. I'm still trying to think of a BeeGees song that I like . . .


PS I'll tell the Coog he can take you off his Christmas card list. I think he'll get over it.

Phil Fountain said...

OK, the Bee Gees? I actually owned their first album. They were OK for a spell (a little sugary, but not in a real bad way.)I think I was having a little sexual identity crisis at that time (I was 13) and the Bee Gees represented my 'feminine' side. I eventually got over it and forgot about the Brothers Gibb until 'Saturday Night Fever.' Completely recovered from my identity crisis by this time, I vomited like a coke whore every time any of this "dance" music hit my audio sensors. An abomination. Criminal. Dear God, don't tell me you liked this stuff? The only thing worse was what they did to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I think the use of nuclear weapons on Australia would be warranted for spawning the Bee Gees. Aarrrrgh,
Now, Neil Diamond. I don't know what to say. He was without doubt a great songwriter. He came out of the whole Brill Building thing (Carole King, etc.) and it was hard not to like him. He wasn't "cool" but there was no denying his talent. He got some cred when Robbie Robertson produced one of his albums and he appeared onstage with The Band in The Last Waltz. I confess I have a "hits mix" disc that I put on once in awhile late at night. I love "Solitary Man,''Kentucky Woman," even 'Song Sung Blue.' But my favorite is 'I Am, I Said.' So, you got me on that one.
And as far as Mellencamp at the BobFest, yeah, he did 'Like A Rolling Stone.' I give him 1 cool point.

Uncle E said...

Holly, surprised you didn't remind Phil that Dylan's real name is Zimmerman...

Phil Fountain said...

Unc, I didn't put him down for having a stage name, just for picking a lame one.
P.S.One of the first things Springsteen's dad asked him after learning of his son's desire to go into showbiz was, "So, what are you going to change your name to?"
We now know it was to become "The Boss."

Mark said...

I definitely agree with Harry Nilsson, although I think he is getting more and more attention, certainly from music critics. It's a shame he blew his voice out while recording "Pussy Cats" with John Lennon. He never sounded the same after that, his voice lost its sweet, light quality. His first three albums are all fantastic, "Pandemonium Shadow Show," "Aerial Ballet," and "Harry." Great singer, terrific songwriter.