Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Kiss Makes People Angry, And So Does Bruce



Bruce Springsteen's recent tour of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa found "The Boss" and the ESB playing some unlikely covers. Not everyone thought this was a good idea. Some of my closest friends actually got so twisted by the cover of AC/DC's "Highway To Hell" that they waged a Facebook war against Mr. Springsteen that is still continuing, calling out Bruce for using a capo on his guitar, not singing the melody precisely as Bon Scott, playing it in a different key, and most recently, posting the now viral video of Billy Joel and Brian Johnson's performance of "You Shook Me All Night Long" from MSG last week, with the accompanying commentary, "Leave the vocals to Brian, Bruce. This is how it's done!" (It is?)

This all seems very unreasonable to me and exemplifies the phrase "You are so missing the point!"



I understand not being a fan of Bruce Springsteen. I don't understand the anger. And this is not just my handful of friends who "don't get Bruce." It seems that people don't just not like Bruce Springsteen. They despise Bruce Springsteen.  It's personal.

I've seen this same phenomenon with Kiss and in many cases, it has little to do with the band's catalogue of songs. People who have admittedly never listened to the band, dislike the band strictly because of the make-up and choice of...uh...clothing. (And maybe because Gene & Paul can be idiots occasionally.) But this hatred is deep. "This band is a fucking joke!" I've heard that more than a few times from people I respect. It's personal.

You know who makes me that angry? Almost no one unless I've actually heard the music.

But, of course, I've expressed my ire and frustration right on these very pages over many different singers and songwriters, though usually it has more to do with the hyping of said singers and songwriters and not so much the output, which with me, is usually just a take it or leave it relationship.


"I do love the reason they won't perform at the show: 60-year-old guys in wigs arguing over who gets to put on the kitty-cat makeup."


This comment left on yesterday's post seems to be missing the point, with all due respect to our good friend who posted it. If it were a friendly neighborhood softball game being played by the Knights Of Columbus and a melee broke out over who gets to be the Mets and who gets to be the Yankees, I'd understand. But aside from being a tad over the top...just a tad...is Kiss's get-up that much different than say...Pink's, a performer who flies around on a trapeze with bombs bursting in air?  Or the countless bands and performers from The Stones to The Who to David Bowie to Black Sabbath to The Ramones to every single bearded 25 year-old moody singer-songwriter with a guitar and deviated septum? Costumes, antics, make-up, neon-pink boas, simulated on-stage fellatio, explosions and even silence (see Dylan and Van) have been a part of rock and roll for years. No one discusses these people with the same fury and disgust as they do Bruce and Kiss, at least not that I have witnessed on such a regular basis.

This is not about Kiss, or whether they belong in the RNRHOF. I have an opinion, but I think the HOF discussions have been exhausted, so I'll skip it for now. I just find the mystery of what pushes people's musical buttons so strongly worth exploring.













26 comments:

Squints said...

Yeah, don't understand that. I thought "Friday On My Mind" wasn't done well, but yeesh, it's a gesture. (Then, again, I'm a longtime fan.) "Stayin' Alive" was actually cooler than I thought it would be, while "Highway to Hell" fits perfectly what has become the band's somewhat demoralizing monotempo of late.

I disdained Kiss early on because it was my bubba's favorite band. Figured it out and embrace the good stuff now.

kevin m said...

I'm sure if you were in the audience during Bruce's shows when he burst into AC/DC or the Bee Gees, you would have had a big grin on your face along with everyone else. Same for the Bill Joel show with Brian Johnson's guest spot.

Sal Nunziato said...

Kevin, I had a big grin on watching the videos from my office. That comment wasn't for me, was it?

philo said...

For me (because of the make up) you knew what you were getting with Kiss. I didn't to listen to them much but I got it. Springsteen I was also ambivelent to as well. But he got much more radio play at the time than Kiss.
The constant bombardment of genius by many always ruffled my feathers. Never was into the early Blinded by the Light stuff. Just seemed someone craming too many words into each verse. I think every artist at one time has an explosive creative period and when he started writing " I'm On Fire", "Pink Cadillac", even "Dancing in the Dark". It was that "Tunnel of Love" time that I turned him off and never really came back.

buzzbabyjesus said...

A couple days ago I anonymously wrote a comment which Sal, rightfully, did not post. I purported to be a KISS fan of limited intelligence and spelling skills. My aim was of course to ridicule KISS and their fans. When Sal didn't post it I felt like an asshole so I made myself listen to the solo videos, and download his compilation. I play in and write songs for a hard rock band. On closer inspection, I discovered that "Deuce" sounds exactly like something I wish I'd written. KISS indeed wrote some great songs. Even the ones I don't like show a level of craft I respect. Maybe some day I'll learn to listen before I snark.

William Repsher said...

I guess Bruce's working-class hero image is no more or less an image than KISS's stage make-up. But I suspect I'd be mercilessly hounded by Bruce fanatics for noticing this. Don't hate the guy -- far from it -- but I really had problems with this wch routine the moment it was put over the top with the American flag and jeans and red cap. I guess I missed the relatively unassuming guy from Freeport, NJ who happened to be a rock star ... as opposed to this new headbanded hero of the downtrodden routine. To his credit, he seemed to grow out of this as the 80s wore on, but that was a hard pill to swallow at the time, and I feel vestiges of it to this day in how he conducts interviews, and the mildly annoying realization that he seems to have drunk his own Kool-Aid.

Shriner said...

I never understood how some music (or bands) can make people angry, either.

You don't like the music/artist -- fine, don't listen to it/them. Radios have an off button for a reason.

There are plenty of bands/artists I don't like or just don't get the love for (and I tried "Summerteeth" over the past few days and apart from 1-2 songs, it just floated by like it never existed, but I digress...)

But why the hate, bro? Life is too short to be angry over things that shouldn't matter to you personally.

"We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful" (ob Morrisey lyric) maybe?


I can somewhat understand when an artist's *politics or personality* override their music and *that* becomes irritating -- but, again, there's still an off button.

But all that said: I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel anymore when "Rock 'n Roll Part 2" shows up somewhere....

wool said...

I am no Kiss fan but if people want to be entertained at a live rock and roll show with theatrics makeup and wailing guitars...more power to them. Who am I to dictate what floats your boat? Kiss has certainly paid their dues...

Noam Sane said...

For Shriner (and Sal)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vb5NFA_XUbs

kevin m said...

No Sal, my comment was not directed at you. Just in general. By the way, I downloaded the Brisbane show with the Bee Gees and AC/DC covers and it's an amazing show with the Wild/Innocent album included as well.

Gene Oberto said...

Sunday, on "The Good Wife" (Yup! I'm a fan...) Alicia Florrik is being deposed and is asked a question that is unseemly and posed to cause embarrassment. She replies that she has been questioned many times and has come to the conclusion that when a question asked is personal, the questioner has no case and no evidence.

I feel the same about people that make their dislike of any artist personal. Disagree with the music, the persona or the fact that the artist can't play a note.

Discuss your reasons why you think the artist and his music is lacking, that's cool. When you make it personal, it just tells me you got nothing to say.

Bombshelter Slim said...

RNRHOF? Grammys? Charts? Like... who cares?? It is, and should be, about the music. I have a prayer I throw out to an audience occasionally: "If you like what you hear, tell your friends. If you don't like it, tell a lie!" I must say, I don't like KISS, but I'd be challenged to identify any of their tunes other than "Beth" or "Rock&Roll All Night" (or whatever it's called). But I don't tell people that... I tell people about what I DO like, and maybe somebody, somewhere gets it.

Jim H. said...

"RNRHOF? Grammys? Charts? Like... who cares?? It is, and should be, about the music. " well, that train left the station many moons ago! In the last 30-some years it's ALWAYS been about popularity, and not 'quality' or 'great music' or whatever you want to call it, or define it.....i grew up in the Philly suburbs in the 70s, and never 'got' Bruce, and DID seem him live in 1978, but to me teenage ears, and now, there's too much drama and 'big show' to what he does...does he stink? of course not! i always figure guys like him and Elton John and Billy Joel and other i've never liked didn't survive this long NOT knowing what they're doing or not being good songwriters, i just ain't a fan of what they do, simple!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes you can dislike an act just for who they are and what they represent. That's how I feel about KISS. It's not rational but it's how I feel. They might be good but to me they will always suck.

Gene Simmons is an A-hole. Enough so I will never hear the good things in their music. There is not enough that is special in their music for me to make the effort to listen to them with fresh ears.

Also like Led Zeppelin's fans, KISS's fans turn me off more then the group itself. I'm a Deadhead but many Deadheads are an embarrassment.

Bruce Springsteen fans are cool.

Allan R.

Bombshelter Slim said...

"In the last 30-some years it's ALWAYS been about popularity"... well I guess popularity is about popularity, and music is about music. Folks can follow the money, so to speak, if they like... but the music leads to the big rewards. THAT train is ALWAYS in the station, you don't need no ticket just get on board...

Anonymous said...

when is the discussion on Grand Funk?

Sal Nunziato said...

Don't push your luck, Anon. I can and WILL make a case for Grand Funk. ;)

buzzbabyjesus said...

Please don't make me listen to grand Funk. I had several of their albums back in the day and don't to go back to "E Pluribus Funk". "Limousine Driver" OK. I can go there.

Christine said...

Strutter, Cold Gin, Deuce, Black Diamond--who cares if they looked like idiots?

Ray Manzareks's organ makes me angry. I think it has to do with being horribly car sick and hearing "Light My Fire" for the first time in 1968. I can't stomach the Doors. That sound makes me want to do a Clockwork Orange jump out the window.

Jeff in Denton TX said...

I'm a fan of both Bruce and KISS. I don't even mind some of the KISS cheese-metal of the 80's (in smaller doses that their much better 70's stuff). I was late to the party on both artists. Scared of KISS as a child in the 70's, I finally started to like them in the late 80's when a college friend of mine introduced me to their back catalog.
The BitUSA-era Bruce was my introduction to him and I really liked that material at the time, though it's the album of his I listen to the least these days (along with "Greetings...NJ").
I suppose some folks can't get past politics or personality when it comes to musicians. I'd hate to go without listening to Merle Haggard's music just because his political leanings are far to the right of my own. Sure, Gene Simmons is, as the title of his most recent solo album attests, an "Asshole". Doesn't mean I'll stop liking "Deuce" or "Calling Dr. Love." I take the music on its own terms and like it or not on that basis. If my beliefs happen to line up with those of an artist I like, great. If not, so what?

Robin said...

I am completely stunned how some harmless covers performed as affectionate gestures to fellow artists, fans, and citizens of a particular country (and a nice hat tip to the songs themselves from a truly great songwriter) had people in such a tizzy. It's irrational to be so caught up in someone you don't like to begin with. One would think you wouldn't waste your time. If you're a Bruce fan, you know he does covers live and so naturally one might have an urge to compare and contrast, but the level of negative criticism seems to miss the point- he was having fun. He didn't go into the studio record and release them as a new record. Oy!!!

As for Kiss, there are definitely some good songs. And I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the piece of mush known as "Beth". ;) They were fun, my younger brother and cousins adored them. They meant a lot to many. Were they ever the classic era Stones? No, very few are.

In general regarding musical dislike... you can tell when it's an informed opinion, where someone separated the chaff from the grain. In other cases the artist's persona is the culprit- the artist annoys them/is someone they probably wouldn't like if the artist wasn't the artist but was just some person in their circle. As you said it's personal. It can be a physical thing- you can't handle the vibrations of a particular voice, even if beautiful. The level of anger and venom I don't understand...it's misdirected.

Your current playlist is my heart. "Wee Small Hours" in particular is one of my favorites of all time, just stellar, the title song (this original album version) being one of the great vocal performances, especially if you really listen.

FD13NYC said...

Love the song of the day!

peabody nobis said...

Okay, Sal, enough with defending these rich old farts! Let's get back to introducing new music...
I see that Beck's newest is on your playlist, but, so far, no word from the big guy. Fill us in, O Great Swami!
Also, too, Jake Bugg...what do you think of this kid? Seems interesting to me, but I'm just an old fart with a keyboard.

Sal Nunziato said...

Peabody, the Beck record is a disappoinment. I admit to not being a huge fan to begin with. I've always felt he was a jack of all trades and master of none. But I went in fresh with the new one.

It grabbed me right out of the box. First three tunes are stunning. But then, it becomes this very same-y mess. All style, no substance, until the last two tunes, which are also very good.

Basically, another okay record given the "greatest record since Revolver" hype.

peabody nobis said...

That's about what I figured...when you like something a lot, nobody has to ask you about it. It does have it's moments, but it's an unusual format these days; it's an album.
What I mean is that all the music is meant to be listened to together, not randomly on a mp3 player. It loses quite a bit when played that way.
I suppose I was happy that it wasn't a reprise of "Midnight Vultures", which I bought fresh off glowing reviews, only to be nonplussed by the result. Oh well, live and learn.

Anonymous said...

patty is STILL linda mccartney!

gmb