Friday Night Music

Add this guy to one of the greatest composers you never heard of.

Okay, that’s not exactly true, but Neil Innes was certainly the greatest satirical  composer ever.  Here’s just one example:  Hold My Hand (The Rutles).  Yes, that’s Monty Python’s Eric Idle on (McCartney-) bass, and Neil doing his John Lennon impersonation on vocals.

I’ve played song that to fanatical Beatle freaks, telling them that it was an undiscovered Beatles song which actually spawned Please Please Me, I Wanna Hold Your Hand  and She Loves You — and not one ever called me on it.  And then there’s Get Back Get Up And Go… and I Am The Walrus  Piggy In The Middle.  The list is endless.

Here’s Neil talking about The Rutles, and here’s the entire All You Need Is Cash  TV show.

Let’s not even talk about Neil’s 1960s Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band and Urban Spaceman… which took aim at the drug culture before that became cool.

R.I.P. Neil Innes (1944-2019)


“Dear Dr. Kim”

“Dear Dr. Kim:
“I understand that you used to play in a rock band, so perhaps you can help.  Our gig band is in need of a keyboards player, so we set up a whole bunch of auditions.  Astonishingly, every single applicant was female, and we’ve never had any women in the band before.  The problem is that all the applicants were excellent musicians, and none of us guys can decide which one we like best.  I’ve attached pics in the hope that this will guide you to help us decide.”

— The Undecided Quartet

Dear Quartet,
Women are problematic in a rock band, for all sorts of reasons.  If they’re single, they will inevitably get a boyfriend who gets jealous of the guys in the band and will try to get her to quit.  If she’s already married, chances are that her husband will eventually start to feel the same way, AND the odds are also good that she’ll get pregnant and quit the band to look after her brat, or some such stupid reason.
I’m not even going to get into the scenario where two or more of your bandmates are going to fall in love with her and get jealous of each other;  or if they’re married, will have an affair with her thus angering the wifey — all of which means that the band could break up over the bitch.  Do you really want to have to deal with all that?
Anyway, now that I’ve got that off my chest, let’s look at the pics…

— Dr. Kim


P.S.  Choose the one who can read music the best.  Or the one with the biggest tits.  Either is good.

The 100

Let’s face it:  Rolling Stone  magazine was always awful.  I think it was them Frank Zappa was talking about when he characterized their writing as “people who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t talk, aimed at people who can’t read.”  (I still miss Frank, a lot, as much for his intellect as for his music.)

RS‘s latest attempt at a “greatest” list (of singers) is a typical example:  muddled, ignorant and open to ridicule.

The muddle is easy:  they attempted to combine several genres of singing — rock, r&B, blues etc. — but while there may be some crossover in those particular ones, it falls completely on its face if you try to include people like Sinatra and Mel Torme, especially when it comes to ranking  the singers.  The muddle is also ignorant of actual vocal quality — and even worse if one tries to include “iconic” as part of it.  There are singers of extraordinary quality (such as Paul Rodgers of Free/Bad Company) who don’t have iconic tonality, and “ordinary” singers of limited range (like Ozzy Osbourne) who almost define an entire genre.  You can’t attempt to rank Rodgers and Ozzy against each other because they are two totally different singers, albeit in more or less similar genres of music.  Now rank Rodgers against Aretha Franklin, which the hapless Stoners did.  It is, as they say, to laugh.  (And by the way:  any compendium list of 100 singers which does not include Ian Gillan of Deep Purple or Steve Marriot of Humble Pie — to name just a couple which caught, or rather didn’t catch my eye —  is fatally flawed.)

Each genre of music requires a different kind of voice, and very few singers can cross over without failing.  And a singer’s inclusion in whatever genre is horribly personal, in any event.  (In the “jazz crooners” club, for example, Harry Connick Jr. is an infinitely-better singer than Sinatra, but without Sinatra there would likely be  no jazz crooners club.  YMMV.)

So Rolling Stone should have broken up the list into genres, just for starters, with the first being the aforementioned “iconic”voices — those which defined the genre — and then some attempt at vocal quality if they’re to be ranked at all.

I’m not going to do that, at least, not today.  But here’s an example of ten of my favorite Rock vocalists in no special order, just as I think of them:

Robert Plant (Zep)
Joe Cocker
Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Company)
Cilla Black
Graham Bonnet (Marbles, Rainbow)
Stephen Stills
David Bowie
Freddie Mercury
Ann Wilson (Heart)
Ian Gillan (Deep Purple)

And just for the hell of it, ten from R&B/soul, likewise unranked:  

Otis Redding
Wilson Pickett
Aretha Franklin
Joe Tex
Tina Turner (who could equally have been classified under Rock)
Al Green
Ella Fitzgerald
Sam Moore
Lionel Ritchie
Etta James

And both lists could change tomorrow.

Dead Stars

…or near death, anyway.  Saith one Damon Linker:

Behold the killing fields that lie before us:  Bob Dylan (78 years old); Paul McCartney (77); Paul Simon (77) and Art Garfunkel (77); Carole King (77); Brian Wilson (77); Mick Jagger (76) and Keith Richards (75); Joni Mitchell (75); Jimmy Page (75) and Robert Plant (71); Ray Davies (75); Roger Daltrey (75) and Pete Townshend (74); Roger Waters (75) and David Gilmour (73); Rod Stewart (74); Eric Clapton (74); Debbie Harry (74); Neil Young (73); Van Morrison (73); Bryan Ferry (73); Elton John (72); Don Henley (72); James Taylor (71); Jackson Browne (70); Billy Joel (70); and Bruce Springsteen (69, but turning 70 next month).

A few of these legends might manage to live into their 90s, despite all the … wear and tear to which they’ve subjected their bodies over the decades. But most of them will not.

…and Jimmy Page is one of the better-preserved  ones.

I’ve thought about this quite a bit over the past couple of years — I think David Bowie’s death triggered the reaction — and while I would be sad about all their deaths, I will always be grateful that their music will live on.

The same can be said for musicians and composers of a bygone era:  singers like Jimmy Durante were replaced by Tony Bennett and even as Bennett and his contemporaries have aged, guys like Harry Connick Jr. and Peter Skellern took their place (although Skellern just died recently, too — now that  gave me a shock).  The big difference between the two types of music is that while the classics belonged to everyone, young and old, rock ‘n roll was always about young people — and younger musicians like Dave Grohl (age:  50) can carry on the tradition, but only so far.

The problem is not the playing of Jimmy Page’s music or the performance of John Lennon’s In My Life;  those compositions will always inspire future musicians into performance.  The problem, as I see it, is that there aren’t any composers stepping up to create new music;  and without new songs, rock ‘n roll will fade away, just out of pure boredom.  (Tell me you don’t ever consider changing the station when Stairway To Heaven  or Hotel California  come over the air.)  Instead, most modern music is so formulaic as to be unlistenable (see here for a really  good explanation why).

Even worse is that actual music is being replaced with illiterate doggerel (rap) in the popularity stakes.  I know that my parents’ generation bewailed the replacement of Rogers & Hart’s complex music with the simplistic melodies of rock ‘n roll — ’twas ever thus — but compared to Jay Z’s musical efforts, Lennon & McCartney sound like Chopin.  Like everything else, music is being dumbed down (and down, and down), just like literature, art and movies.

As much as we joke about Keith Richards outliving the cockroach, when Keef finally pops his clogs, his creativity will be gone forever — and I have to say that as rock ‘n roll gets smaller and smaller, and rap / hip-hop gets larger and larger, there will be few if any to take his place.  Let’s not even talk about real  genius like that of Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, Harry Nilsson or David Bowie (both of whose talents are already being missed).  Musicians like Dave Grohl (another genius, but he’s only a decade or so younger than I am) are thin on the ground right now.

Fach.  The hell with it.  I’ll be gone by the time rock fizzles out and dies, but I just hope that my Son & Heir has found someone to replace Dream Theater (average age as we speak:  52).