Saturday, December 18, 2010

HIp album collections and the pecking order therein

The reasons Beatle fans in general (rather than only) "hipsters" prefer Revolver to Sgt.Pepper is for the only reason that really matters when one is alone with their iPOD; the songwriter is consistently better, the production crisper, the lyrics are effectively "poetic"  without the florid excess that capsized about half of Sgt.Pepper's songs. Perhaps most important, though, is that  you could still listen to Revolver and still regard the Beatles as a working band . It might be a better bet that musicologist would be a better choice to pick apart what made the musicianship on this record so alive and cogent, but a big attraction in my life is that these guys still sound like a band showing up for a gig, setting up their own gear, and ready to play . It may be nostalgia, but something was lost when Sgt. Pepper became the standard by which most  Beatles records after it would be judged, two sides of special effects, guest shots and  flailing ambition toward the Art Gesture. Revolver was the band still in work shirts.

It might be compared to Miles Davis when he was performing with his classic bands--John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock,Tony Williams, Ron Carter, et al-- with a long string of releases like Birth of the Cool and Kind of Blue (name your favorite here)and when he turned to the jazz rock fusion of Bitch's Brew and On the Corner, which featured the endeavors of Chick Corea, and John McLaughlin . The first mentioned releases are conspicuous examples of bands sensitive to each members nuances, strengths and weaknesses, quirks and signatures, combing with the material to offer adventurous improvisations as part of an ensemble effort, while with Bitch;s Brew Davis and his producers culled performances from hours of taped jam sessions where ideas and motifs were explored to produce albums that are, in effect, mosaics. The general tone of the later releases was less the sparks that occur between musicians confronting each other in performance but rather something more theatrical; thought the musicianship is rather magnificent and often times bracing on the later electric releases,they seem more in service to Davis' cantankerous muse , performing as directed. As much as I admire and respect the accomplishment of both the Beatles and Davis in their late work, studio craft and all, a larger part of me would have preferred if the musicians had found a way to expand their horizons without abandoning their identities as bands. The Rolling Stones sought to produce their own version of Sgt.Pepper with the releases of the bloated and wasted Satanic Requests, and it's a fine thing to appreciate the Stones self critical response to bad notices (and perhaps some sober listening to the record, after the fact); they abandoned their attempts to compete with the Beatles on their new turf and returned  to riffy, R&B inflected rock and roll.

What hasn't been mentioned here is that Frank Zappa released his first Mothers of Invention album Freak Out on June 27, 1966, a full month before the Beatles released Revolver in August of that year. Zappa was an erratic, quizzical, quarrelsome presence, but he achieved things with that album that neither the Beatles nor the Stones came close to; both those bands were more influential in the pop music sphere, where their separate approaches to including cross genre and avant gard gestures made for pleasant and easily appreciated (and imitated)music for a large record buying public. Zappa, though, with his solid chops as composer, producer, guitarist, satirist and multi media maven, was miles further up the road and around the bend with respect to advancing the primitive ways of rock and roll into an art form. A good amount of Zappa's early music remains challenging to comprehend, which is another way of saying that it's hard to sit through and that it's downright ugly. The ugliness, though, wasn't merely my limited aesthetic; Zappa cultivated it, advanced it, gloried in it. Now that's integrity.  But the stuff that sounded ugly decades ago still kills small animals today.

1 comment:

  1. Jerry Pernod7:21 PM PDT

    Has anyone in this area developed a REAL interest in playing classic rock yet,besides other guitar players? Or do all the people in this area just like to talk about it to give them something to fantasize about for a little while? Rap is dying out and good music is coming back finally,at least in most of the rest of the country,except San Francisco I guess.Good music always wins out over bad in the end by it's nature.Hello San Francisco,all serious musicians still love Bach,Mozart,and Beethoven despite the centuries gone by.I realize you aren't normal people when it comes to music,proof being you have only 1 classical station that plays nothing else but Telemann all day and even shortens those monotonous sounding compositions down to 3 minutes to suit it's only audience,people who listen to it on the radio thinking it will make them look intellectually superior to their neighbors.You clueless throw-backs of society! Are there no keyboard players who would like to play ELP and hear all the instruments besides yourself? Those type of people most have moved away decades ago I guess.Every band needs a guitarist and nowadays almost everybody plays guitar and seeks out the other instrumentalists who make up a band.I offer you a lead guitarist,classically trained on the violin and piano,who also loves rock music when it once strived to be great music,who can also improvise on electric violin and a synthesizer like it was another lead guitar and I always get numerous people claiming to be interested,but when it comes down to actually start working and stop fantasizing always disappear with the wind.

    Quit using me the same way you use your wannabe radio station.If you don't want to play the really good rock music that most of this country use to listen to,quit calling me and wasting my time! And to the few bands that are out there,do you really think people enjoy hearing "Love Me Two Times" everytime they go out to listen to live music or dance all their lives?

    If there really still are any singers,bassists,drummers,or keyboard players who want to ACTUALLY play the good stuff for fun and for profit ,then please contact me because there are very few of us who still live in this area that are serious about it and we do need each other.All I need are those bodies that really want to do the work and not just talk about it.I can and will do the rest.In an area of well over 2 million people there has to be at least 3 like minded people left,or am I the one now fantasizing?Does this message make sense to anyone left out there at all?If so ,please be AT LEAST 35,or at least the maturity of someone at least that age who does not live in this pitifully degenerated area,because I don't have the patience to keep filtering through phoneys.I don't care if you're 36 or 60,but remember I can tell by your knowledge and musical tastes whether you're for real or not.All you need from there is the willingness to do the work,which I will do the lion's share of anyway.Don't waste my time! Life is too short,even though a small degree of patience is part of the process.


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