Wednesday, September 3, 2014
The Traveling Nilburys: A Not-So-Supergroup
It crossed my mind that both my least favorite vocalist and least favorite guitar player were in the same, wildly popular and successful band.
But is my deep disgust for this band completely at the hands of these two musicians? I'm not sure. I really do like two of the other members.
More on these people in a minute.
Some other inadvertent saboteurs came to mind.
Liberty DeVitto, long time drummer for Billy Joel, had the ability to jar me from enjoying a perfectly good pop tune with some unnatural smack of a snare or what some might feel was a creative run along the toms, but to my ears felt more like a kid stomping all over some bubblewrap.
Larry Graham was a hero! A bass-slapping monster, funking it up and taking names. Then he met Prince, sucked Prince's mojo right out of his body and BAM... Bob's your soulless, funkless, bad song-writing, G-rated, God-fearing sexless uncle.
In the case of Liberty DeVitto, I simply don't like his style of drumming. Larry Graham, on the other hand, is still a fantastic player, I just wish he kept his nose out of Prince's business.
But I digress. (Though I sure like venting about how shitty Prince has become. Thanks, Larry.)
I thought it would be a fun exercise to create a band, a supergroup if you will, consisting of musicians I really don't like. The Traveling Wilburys featured five favorites and though their two records might be filled with Dylan and Petty toss-offs, I loved them both for their spirit. What would the opposite of that be for me?
My choices did not go after easy marks. I know many would choose Bob Dylan or Geddy Lee as their least favorite vocalist. But I not only like Bob Dylan's voice, I feel that he is a genuinely good singer, underneath all the gravel and drone. Geddy is an acquired taste, but I acquired it. I also didn't choose Sid Vicious, since everyone knows he sucked.
My choices are people who have mostly been praised for their talents.
So my nightmare supergroup is as follows:
Just horrible through and through. Not a subtle bone in his body. He never shuts up, not during guitar solos, not during fades or codas. As a matter of fact, a good portion of the tunes on both "Use Your Illusion I and II" end with this bloated pinhead getting the last word. Plus, he makes nails on a blackboard sound like "The Velvet Fog." Even at his most tame, on songs like "November Rain" and "Patience," the tone of Axl Rose's voice is still a painful cross between Walter Brennan and a Rainbow Lorikeet.
Lead Guitar- Slash
Dinah Shore had more soul. His solos change tempo midway. He is noisy and haphazard and quite simply without style. He makes it impossible to feel anything, aside from "when is this awful carnival ride OVER!" Every solo is a race for the finish. Plus, that opening riff to "Sweet Child Of Mine," considered to be an all-time classic rock riff, sounds like an Interpol siren. I am consistently baffled by both of these Guns N Roses members.
Bass-Pino Palladino (In The Who)
I will admit, this spot gave me trouble. No bass player has ever truly rubbed me the wrong way. I think Flea is overrated, but he fits in fine with the other players of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I have friends who swear by the rhythm section of Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz. (Maybe David Byrne is the saboteur.) But the Heads leave me cold, less a collective 30 minutes of their output. Maybe I'm not smart enough. Fa-fa-fa-fuck it.
There is no doubt in my mind that Pino Palladino is a fine musician. And I know I have enjoyed his playing elsewhere, say Jeff Beck's band. But there couldn't be a lousier replacement for one of the greatest bass players of all-time, John "The Ox" Entwistle. Think Spinal Tap, when their "sexy" album cover is deemed "sexist" and is replaced with "none more black." It makes little sense other than Pete Townshend getting tired of the busyness of Entwistle's playing. Pete even made mention of it, as well as Keith Moon's insanity on the kit, in the "Quadrophenia" documentary. Pino's slick touch on Who classics is just wrong. Why not get Ron Carter to play "My Generation?" (Ok, maybe I'd like to hear that.)
It's no secret that I am a Todd Rundgren and Utopia fanatic, but not because of Roger Powell. Being an innovator and an electronics genius doesn't make you a good keyboard player. The thing is, he is a good keyboard player. Just listen to his piano solo on "The Verb To Love." It really couldn't be more perfect. It's when he plugs in that he basically sabotages even the best of Utopia's work. Cheesy and dated, even on some of the band's already cheesy and dated proggy material, the sound of Powell's keys, which I assume he chose himself, make Rudy Vallee records sound modern.
Drums- Carter Beauford
Do you know this guy? He plays with the Dave Matthews Band, a band that even without my least favorite vocalist and least favorite guitar player, manages to be my least favorite band, mostly because of its odious and overrated leader. But a lot of credit must go to this boob who manages to make Keith Moon look like Little Ricky. The guy just overplays and overplays and overplays, never setting a groove long enough for the band or anyone...well...except the 90,000 in their constantly sold-out live audiences...to fall into a pocket. (What do they know?)
I watched a live broadcast once, maybe 15 minutes tops, and Beauford twirled his sticks, rattled his chimes, used his mallets and double-bassed me right out of any interest at all. It was a circus. This was during one song.
Care to create your own bad band?