Wednesday, February 20, 2019

I'll Have The Usual

I sent an e-mail to myself a few days ago. It read, "Has there been any artist who has successfully created a record 20 years past their prime, that didn’t try to be current or relevant, but actually sounded exactly like their heyday?"

The difference between the sound of The Beatles debut and "Abbey Road" is drastic, and it took place in only seven years. The Fabs weren't together long enough to attempt staying relevant. We did not get the chance to hear them take a stab at disco like the Stones, or use more synths and drum machines like Bruce Springsteen (and countless others) in the 80's, or reinvent themselves as a pop trio from a progressive rock quintet, like Genesis. Or, abandon rock and roll altogether like Joe Jackson did with his string of records in the 80's.

But what if more artists did what Joe Jackson did in 2003? He made a rock and roll record with his original band, last found on 1980's "Beat Crazy." It was called "Volume 4," and it picked up where "Beat Crazy" left off, most of it a solid success.

As much as I enjoyed Paul McCartney's "Egypt Station," I think 99.9% of his fan base would have enjoyed it even more if it was a back to basics record with a smattering of Beatlesque harmonies and chord changes, and did away with trendy producers and weak forays into unfamiliar territory like trip-hop or electronica. The most disappointing of all would be my boy Todd Rundgren, whose output since the 90's has dabbled in rap, EDM and other genres he has no business exploring. Would the Stones output of the last 30 years be treated with more respect without the high gloss production and feeble attempts at sounding "current." I know many will defend "Blue & Lonesome," their "back to basics" blues record from a few years back. But in truth, there was nothing basic about it. It was brash and loud. A back to basics blues record shouldn't be glitzy. A for effort, but a D minus for finished product. I blame Mick. For everything.

I know there are artists, many artists, who have stayed true to their roots, dutifully releasing record after record, one interchangeable from the next. But I was fantasizing more about those that didn't. Many have since passed, so I couldn't hope for David Bowie, Mick Ronson and Spiders glam record. But what if Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett, Phil Collins and the classic version of Genesis did get back together and recorded three lengthy prog pieces like the old days, worrying little about reaching new fans, and simply catering to the old fans? How about McCartney and Denny Laine and Steve Holley making a Wings record? You get my point.

This is not about putting aside differences or not wanting to look back. It's just about dancing with the one that brought you, and maybe a little about having a little fun with what could still happen.

Who and what would you like to hear?


Mr. Baez said...

For years I've thought (and to be honest hoping) that Bob Dylan would do one more protest album. I mean, he too must be fed up with the state of the world (especially in this age of Trump.) I would love to hear his current thoughts at his age in this format in song.

Anonymous said...

Townshend and Daltrey are in the studio making a new "Who" record. Pete has put up several short (2-4 minute) video snippets of studio happenings that make it appear that the album will be more of a 'band' effort as opposed to Endless Wire, a record which was pretty much a Pete solo album with him playing most of the instruments.

I'm trying to temper my expectations, but wouldn't it be great if Pete could keep from writing an album based on a theme or song cycle and just make a rock and roll record in the spirit of "Rough Mix"?

One can only hope.


Troy said...

+1 on The Who. Would love to see a band album that rocks and would love to see it with some orchestral components (I think their upcoming tour is supposed to be with a local orchestra at each stop).

It would be great to see Aerosmith make a bluesy, kick ass rock & roll record that wasn't overproduced or full of cheese.

I was listening to Joe Jackson Band's live album, 'Afterlife' yesterday and they just kicked ass. Joe could do that again sometime and I'd be a happy guy.

Anonymous said...

Hello, please remain seated,

Would love to hear Neil Young *judiciously* choose some songs for an album (with or without Crazy Horse) instead of, you know, just shoveling things at us willy-nilly.

Would love to hear Stevie Wonder play a clavinet-heavy soul album.

Would love to hear Richard Thompson....well, repeat exactly what he did last year. 13 rivers was great.


Anonymous said...

I read that X are making songs again as the original line-up, and as I love those first four albums unreservedly, I have hope that they'll be great. I'd say it would be tricky for folks of a certain age to be doing the punk music of their youth, but X was always wise beyond their years and onto The Big Picture, so here's hoping it works. And when the Buzzcocks reunited in the early 90s -- admittedly not a 20-year break -- they took back up pretty close to where they'd left off; then again, their power-pop punk was timeless to begin with.
REM producing mysteriously beautiful and beautifully mysterious music, as they did initially, would be a great thing.
C in California

Shriner said...

Leaving things outside of the "wouldn't it be nice if these bands reunited" fantasy (Where have you gone, Bill Berry? Where are you now, Andy Sturmer? Bury the hatchet with Marr, Moz! Get off your ass, Roger Hodgson!)

I'd be up for hearing Paul Weller make a solo album that sounds like a bunch of songs by The Jam (including Bruce Foxton on all tracks). Or Sting making another "white reggae" album with or without both Andy and Stewart. None of them are angry-young-men any more, though.

I've given up hope for an XTC reunion, but I'd love to hear Andy release something that would include other ex-band members that might temper some of his flights of fancy and his self-production.

Talking Heads? Another Was (Not Was) or Wondermints albums? Why not?

Fountains of Wayne now that Adam is done with "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"? We *all* need this.

And I want a new Pipettes album with Gwenno, Riot Becki and Rose!

And, I still want a 5th album by The Raspberries! I held out faint hopes that those live reunion shows might lead to something, but it never did...

For things actually happening, I'm looking forward to see what the Stray Cats reunion sounds like. It may not be too far off from Setzer's non-Christmas solo stuff, but some 3-piece with a stripped down drum kit and some slap bass! Bring it on, Cats!

And if the rumors that Van Halen comes back with DLR *and* Michael Anthony -- I'm all over that shit.

But no more CSNY.


Troy said...

I was at one of the Stray Cats reunion shows last summer (I heard they did 3 total). It was an outdoor show and ended up being a rain-shortened affair, but they looked and sounded great. The fest organizers evacuated the grounds way too early (no storm arrived over the next 2 hours) and then let everyone back in just in time for Mother Nature to pound us ferociously. Would've liked to see more.

Anonymous said...

Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer are still around...

mauijim said...

Put Rockpile back together again. Theres no more labels to keep them apart.

kevin m said...

Would love to see a reunion of the line up from the first 2 Psychedelic Furs records. At the very least, the Butler are supposedly recording new music as the Furs and I'm looking forward to that. And if the music sucks, I'll do what Sal does and blame Mick.

Anonymous said...

I love when a band evolves and surprises you with something unexpected. With all evident differences and distances, I see U2 evolution from Boy to Achtung Baby like that one of The Fabs. It was a really short productive and creative period.
When they issued their LP previous to the last one, they claimed it was a back to origins and you can say it was but I think it never was their best time those 80 - 84 years. I love this band though I think they got a bit lost a few years ago. In their defense, who does not after the 50's.
I would love to hear some serious rock and roll from this band, like in the late eighties, maybe teaming with Daniel Lanois again...that would be great to me.

Joe said...

the original Fleetwood Mac (RIP DK)
Stevie Wonder
The Meters
Buffalo Springfield
Simon and Garfunkel
Talking Heads
Crosby, Stills and Nash
Carlene Carter (singing rock and roll)
The Rascals


daudder said...

Van Morrison from his mid 70's period; Robbie Robertson 's original two solo efforts; Hothouse Flowers; and although impossible, I'd live another Nilsson album in the schmilsson vein....

Bill said...

The Kinks anywhere from Face To Face to Muswell Hillbillies. Hell, I'd love to hear a Misfits level record from them again.

Troy said...

@ daudder - I agree with everything you said. I do think Van is on a really good run right now, nothing like his 70's period, but still inspired.

Would love RR on par with those first two, but after the Clairvoyant album, I somehow doubt we'll hear much from him again.

And Hothouse Flowers are one of my favorite bands, but their last effort 'Let's Do This Thing' was one of the shittiest things I've ever heard. It was just dismal.

On all 3, I think the muse has to be there for them to hit those heights again. Van's got it these days, but it seems pretty far away for the other 2. Just my opinion. Great post, though!

Chris Collins said...

I wanna see Rod and Ronnie do one more album together. I think they owe it to us, no!?

lemonflag said...

I wonder what Eric Burdon and Alan Price are doing these days?

Anonymous said...

Hi!! First time poster here....Love the blog....Great topic.

Wow....How about this....The 3 amigos...Grand Funk...Mark,Don And Mel,back to the power trio days of the red album/closer to home.Remember the first reunion without Mel? They issued GFR-Lives On the Full Moon/WB Label.1981 think of what was happening music wise then.I think it was a pretty strong power trio record.Naturally it sank upon its release.Kinda makes me think of records like Brownsville Stations' Yeah! and School Punks stuff "RAWK" if you will!!!

Sorry if I went on too long.Peace,love and kind regards to all!!

Anonymous said...

I second what everyone else already said... great ideas! Nice to hear about X & The Who.
I appreciate that Santana did exactly what Sal wrote about, with Santana IV a couple years ago, featuring the great '71 lineup.
How about the Stones w. Mick Taylor, and make a truly kick-ass lp once again?
Derek & the "New" Dominos, to erase our memory of his long list of pablum.
Dire Straits.