Guilty secrets....

September 19, 2009 12:39 PM

We've all got 'em......haven't we? You know.....bands/artists that are irredeemably uncool but which you secretly like? And, conversely, so-called cool bands that you either actively dislike or simply don't get what all the fuss is about. So to liven up what seems to be a rather quiet spell at MeFiMu I thought a "confessions"-style parlour game might be quite spendid (more tea Vicar?). You may, if you wish, offer up a defence against the prosecution case. Or you may simply brazen it out. I've appended a few of mine to get the ball rolling....

Uncool likes:

Nazareth - sweaty, a little desperate and possibly a model for Spinal Tap, but I love 'em;
Abba - fabulous melodies that stick in the head - what more do you want?;
Shalamar - ancient '80's disco but some great dance records;
Boston - saw them live once in an aircraft hanger near Birmingham (UK) - they sucked big-time live but some of their early singles had guitar riffs to die for.

Cool dislikes:

Radiohead - leave me totally cold (gasp!) - I have tried, honest guv;
Coldplay - I once saw an interview with the singer who said something like "I keep waiting to be exposed as a charlatan" - well, you haven't fooled me for a second, mate;
Oasis - secondhand songs from a second-rate pub band that got lucky beyond their wildest imaginings. Even the name is puerile - the sort of name you think is cool when you're about 13. I actively loathe this band. You will atone in hell for inflicting them on us, Alan McGee...... At least the USA didn't fall for it;
Paul Weller - would be tolerable if he stopped trying to play lead guitar. Give it up mate.
posted by MajorDundee (77 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I think you've got Coldplay and Oasis in the wrong category, there.
posted by chococat at 2:31 PM on September 19, 2009

This is a cool subject, but thinking about it, I realize that one person's Blech is another's Woo Hoo!

As a life long punker there are some things that should just really turn me off, but as it turns out, loud guitars and yelling lyrics are just how I like to express myself and not necessarily what I listen to.

Some of my Guilty Pleasures:

The Smiths/Morrissey: They just kick ass. Period.

Disco...all of it, and even The Bee Gees: Turn the bass and volume up and it's a friggin' party already. Also, it takes very little commitment, like ice cream, it's just good.

Classical (orchestral)/Opera: Does anyone even listen to this crap anymore outside of school? I do. Sometimes.
posted by snsranch at 5:29 PM on September 19, 2009

Hey, what's wrong with Boston?

At any rate, mine are:

Uncool likes:

They Might Be Giants: Really, they're my favorite band. I'm only ashamed to admit that because I've been in contact with other fans as obsessed as I am, and they're not a group of people with whom I would like to be lumped.
Ace of Base: They're undeniably catchy.
Randy Stonehill: If you've heard of him, you know he's a Christian rock musician. Fortunately, most people haven't, so ... well, I just think he's pretty good.
Yes: I shouldn't even have to defend liking Yes, but people have made fun of me for it.
The Police: I can jump around the house to "I Can't Stand Losing You" any day of the week, in spite of the fact that the lyrics are horrible. This can be applied to most of their songs.
James Taylor: James Taylor can always put me in an OK, calm place, no matter what my mood may be. Maybe (for me) he can't do it as well as Cat Stevens, but sometimes I have to take Cat Stevens too seriously. I don't have to do that with James Taylor. It's the right kind of simple and soothing sound I sometimes need.

Cool dislikes:

Weezer: I can't stand Weezer. At all. It all sounds like some bland, whiny mush to me. The fact that their videos tend to be really interesting only infuriates me further.
Oasis and Coldplay: Ditto MajorDundee.
Nine Inch Nails: Okay, the first couple albums were pretty good, back when it was just some weird take on synth-pop. After that, however ... well, let's take The Fragile, for example. So many songs built on the same tired chord progression. Wholly uninteresting.
Elliot Smith: I want to like him; I really do. But he bores the hell out of me.
Led Zepplin, Modest Mouse, Bob Marley, and Radiohead: I've heard enough. Really. I've had too many friends who were too enthralled with them. And I've heard enough. So I just can't ever enjoy listening to them again.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 6:01 PM on September 19, 2009

Uncool Likes:

"Weird Al" Yankovic: I even saw him live in 2000, in Dallas.
Rockapella: Very fun live show, and their "drummer" is damn impressive.
Journey: Give them all the crap you like, they have (or had) some serious chops!
REO Speedwagon: Kevin Cronin's weird voice aside, they're a really fun band.
Oingo Boingo: Danny Elfman is one of my favourite film composers, and once I started listening to the stuff he did with the Clowns of Death, I was hooked. DEFINITELY not your standard 80s crappy New Wave.
The Presidents of the United States of America: Believe it or not, I have every album EXCEPT the self-titled debut--just never got around to it. Their live shows are a blast, and their latest album, These Are the Good Times People is fantastic.
Isaac Hayes: The soundtrack to Shaft should not be overlooked for the movie's crapiness.
The Go-Gos: Say what you want, Beauty and the Beat is a classic album, and Jane Wiedlin is extremely sexy.
The Doors: They've become very looked down upon, lately, and I don't understand why. I love the weird effing vibe they had, and really enjoyed Jim Morrison's stupid poetry.
Duran Duran: Can't get enough of them, really. Nothing else to say.
Electric Light Orchestra: Cheesy at times, especially Discovery and after, but no one has combined those textures as well, before or since.
Meat Loaf: Oh, so very much. Jim Steinman is a Rock and Roll Genius, and the production on the three Bat Out of Hell records is simply spectacular. Really fun live show, too--just don't expect the songs to end. EVER.
Jesus Christ Superstar: Andrew Lloyd Webber is a talentless, stupid twat, 99 times out of 100. This, for me, was the one time. Mind, I only refer to the original London cast, featuring Ian Gillan from Deep Purple.
Billy Idol: This is one I hate to admit, but he's a great songwriter, and a helluva performer. He also has one of the best backing bands ever.

Cool Dislikes:

Weezer: They'd be a lot better if they didn't suck so much. Good ideas, shoddy execution.
Oasis: Oh, how I loathe them. I don't get why people enjoy them, at all. I've liked some of Noel Gallagher's solo works, but the band is so dull and bitchy.
Dream Theater: I love progressive rock--Rush, Yes, King Crimson, even early Genesis, but I simply cannot get into Dream Theater. God knows I've tried, but it just doesn't click.
Nine Inch Nails: Now, before anyone kills me for this, I actually like a lot of it--the textures and experiments are quite great, but what KILLS it--ABSOLUTELY EFFING KILLS IT-- for me, is Trent's voice. I hate it, to the point where I don't want to listen to the rest of the awesomeness.
Blur: Cool, undeniably. Enjoyable by me, not as such.
Led Zeppelin: A fairly experimental blues band--not really much to it. Talented live performers, but certainly not worthy of the come-in-your-pants fanaticism they receive.
My Morning Jacket Again, I should qualify--I don't enjoy their studio recordings. Their live shows are fantastic, but the albums are lo-fi in a way that I feel detracts from the experience.
Nowadays, U2: I miss enjoying them. I loved their early stuff, and still consider Rattle and Hum to be one of the best concert films ever made, but their latest efforts are lazy, messy, and just not very good. How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb was one of the worst purchases I've ever made, to the point where it cast a taint on the rest of my U2 collection. It's a damn shame, because they used to be SO GOOD.
(dunno if they qualify as cool, but they get a lot of credit around here) The Eagles: 'Nuff said.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 9:34 PM on September 19, 2009

There are a lot more on both sides there, but I was already beyond the point of tl;dr, so...yeah.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 10:26 PM on September 19, 2009

We did this a long while back, and I'll repeat here what I said then: a-ha is awesome. As for other "uncool likes", I too enjoy James Taylor, and though I don't really ever listen to them, I agree that Abba wrote spectacular pop songs. I also like the Avril Lavigne song "I'm With You". I recently went on a YouTube rampage listening to two or three Toto songs over and over.

Cool dislikes: I'll agree with askmeaboutLOOM about NIN. I never really quite got it. Same with Blur. I've also tried getting into Smashing Pumpkins without a whole lot of success, with a couple of exceptions. Also have some trouble with Lou Reed, and Joy Division, even though I respect them and want to love them. I could probably think of a hundred other examples. Oh yeah: Boards of Canada. I do like what they do, theoretically, but I don't listen to their stuff. It's not enjoyable for me to listen to even if my brain understands that there are some great things about it.
posted by edlundart at 10:29 PM on September 19, 2009

Gotta say I'm scratching my head just a little here, guys... I mean, in what universe can Isaac Hayes be considered uncool? No freakin' WAY, loom! Also, I can only guess that Oasis and Coldplay are deemed cool by Bona Fide Hip People in England... surely not in America? But, anyway, this is a fun thread, thanks for posting, Dundee. I've got a small few that come to mind right away, so lemme get my two-cents-worth in... but keep in mind that I've been in Japan for 15 years now, with only very short and infrequent trips back to the states, so some of my cools and uncools may have, hipster-perception-wise, shuffled categories. I'll just stress that the cool/uncool qualifier in my lists below may well be what was generally considered cool or uncool in the states about 20 years back, and no telling where they stand now! So...

Uncool likes:

Steppenwolf - with tunes like "Magic Carpet Ride" and "Hey Lawdy Mama", they were some of the funkiest white boys of their day. John Kay wasn't the world's most exciting singer, sure, but that only made the band work harder, I think. They were into their groove, and at their best, they laid it out just right.
Alice Cooper - He had an amazing voice with just enough consistent gravel to cut through a loud rock band without sounding like he was about to bust a gut. A brilliant purveyor of self-consciously juvenile and stupid tunes like "I'm Eighteen", he was a consummate entertainer, and ugly as sin!

Cool dislikes:

Elvis Costello - While I certainly respect a lot of what he's done over the years (especially King of America), I have to say that just way too much of his work, for me, has been too facile and full of "clever" wordplay that turns out, upon closer inspection, to have very little substance to it. I'm fully aware that I will be pounced on and torn apart limb-from-limb for holding this opinion, however.
Burt Bacharach - Bacharach is so championed and so dearly loved by so many musicians that I respect and admire, that it pains me to say that I dislike. It's not just simple dislike, though, it's a little more complicated. Mainly, it has to do with how Bacharach's inventive melodies were SO off-the-keyboard and SO not meant to be sung. Now, bear with me here: I know Dionne Warwick did a very admirable job in negotiating those crazy leaps and bounds, those interval jumps and rhythmic phrases that no singer/songwriter would come up with on their own. But it just too often sounds way too forced to me. And Bacharach's lyric collaborators, Hal David and the other guy (can't remember his name right now), they had to squeeze their (often hackneyed) lyrics into these tortuous melodic paths as well, often resulting in language and syllabic stress that also sounds forced and unnatural to my ears.

I have a feeling I'll think of more later on...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:41 PM on September 19, 2009

Two words, Jim Steinman. The man invented Wagnerian Rock, the greatest music in the world that very, very few people have attempted to make. Aside from Steinman, I can only think of Protomen's recent album having even been what I would call truely Wagnerian Rock.
posted by mediocre at 1:12 AM on September 20, 2009

I have no guilty pleasures. Awesome music is awesome, and there's nothing I listen to that I'd be embarrassed to admit to. I love Katy Perry and Neil Sedaka just as much as I love Magnetic Fields and the Pernice Brothers.

Cool dislikes? I'm not a big Beatles fan. They're alright, I guess.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 1:26 AM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wait, I thought of a guilty pleasure after all -- I think there are some really good songs on the first Barenaked Ladies album. But I am really hesitating to push the "Post" button.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 1:31 AM on September 20, 2009

Cool dislikes? I'm not a big Beatles fan.

The Beatles occupy an enormous place that encompasses both cool and uncool, and at the same time they are essentially beyond these classifications. They're like the Bible or something: they're just THERE. Now, in the context of this conversation, and what is considered cool/uncool, I think it's safe to say that the Beatles are not really considered *cool*. Again, they're sort of beyond that. I don't imagine there are many of us who still listen to the Beatles, or think about their music, who really consider them "cool", exactly. It is my impression that there are people who consider the Beatles, or more accurately, talking about the Beatles, to be uncool. Hell, I was just fighting with one of them the other day here at Mefi.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:33 AM on September 20, 2009

As far as Isasac Hayes, he's generally considered cool in a cheesy way, and most people don't go beyond the theme to Shaft, to realize he's a seriously talented composer. The rest of that score will make you forget about the theme, entirely.

The Beatles took time to grow on me. I spent so much time hating them because everyone else was drooling over them that I never really gave their better works a chance until about six years ago. Now, Abbey Road and The Beatles (White Album) are two of my favourite albums. I can sympathize with not caring for the music--what I don't get is people who (not that you did) say that they flat out suck, or somesuch nonsense. If nothing else, the things they helped do for pop music, as far as pushing through the use of many developing technologies was immense. They used their powers for good, not for evil.

Flaps, I'll have to let you have Elvis Costello. I love the crap out of his music, but I can see not caring for it. For me, though, it's the elegant simplicity of the music with the (sometimes) comical verbosity of his lyrical content that makes me love it. Also, other than him, what the hell chance does a Briton (a Scot, at that) have of making rockabilly/country music?

Oasis is lauded by the "hip" early 20s crowd, 'round here. Why? I have no idea. If I want shoegazing, I'll get it from The Stone Roses, instead of two infantile Scottish brothers trying to (unsuccessfully) rip off both them and the Beatles simultaneously.

Oh, I forgot to mention two more guilty pleasures: Uriah Heep. I know they're terrible, and want to hate them, but Demons & Wizards is such a stupidly fun album, I just can't do it!

And the Beastie Boys: I have no elaboration on this, and feel there should be none necessary.

I'm not sure if these guys are well known 'round here to be considered cool or uncool, but there are also a couple of bands I really love that just absolutely don't fit with my normal musical aesthetic:

Freezepop: Infectious Boston synthpop. I absolutely adore their synth sounds and textures, and Liz Enthusiasm's extremely docile voice, it's just a party at all times. Also, they really liked our cover of Do You LIke My WANG?, so they can't be all bad.

Blind Guardian: I am NOT a "metal"...guy. I'm just not. The only things that qualify, technically, as heavy metal, that I like are some early Black Sabbath, a couple of Judas Priest albums, and occasionally some Dio. However, these guys knock my socks off--A german quartet of bards who (fortunately) evolved out of making just ass speed metal into something much much better. It's like Metal with a very healthy dose of both Queen and Jim Steinman. It's Wagnerian Metal. Driving melodic lines, stacked harmonic vocals (sometimes a bloody army of them), and (admittedly silly) vocals based all in mythology and lore. Their concerts are fantastic, partly due to their rabid (but friendly) fan base. They sing along with the guitar solos, and shout at just the right times in each song, knowing all the lyrics by heart (EVIDENCE). Simply fantastic.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 7:02 AM on September 20, 2009

One band everybody loves that I just don't get is The Replacements. The slower stuff is decent, but their punk songs are just recycled rock n roll riffs-- the Dolls did it a lot better. They have the kind of fans that make it their mission to change your mind if you say you don't love them. And for some reason they always want to play me those crappy fast songs, and skip right over the slow ones that I might actually enjoy.

I used to feel the same way about Led Zeppelin, but I've been gaining an appreciation for them lately. Except for Plant, whose vocals and lyrics will always annoy me.

Guilty pleasures are tougher, because they are defined from outside-- what do I like that other people don't think is cool? When I was a young punk Devo and Talking Heads would have fit because the crowd I ran with considered them too mainstream. Today, even most of those people would say they are great bands.

I still like The Alarm, and I doubt anyone has come to think of them as cool. Great sing-along songs, and they always put on a killer show. Lots of energy coming from those guys.
posted by InfidelZombie at 8:30 AM on September 20, 2009

Have to correct you on a couple of pedantic points LOOM - Elvis Costello is definitely not a Scot. He was born in Liverpool and is of Irish descent (his dad was a pro singer with big bands and did some cheesy adverts in the UK in the '70's for, of all things, lemonade!!). And the Gallaghers aren't Scots either - they're from Manchester - again of Irish descent.

Tend to agree re Costello - he would have been better if he'd produced fewer, more considered, records. His very mannered transatlantic vocal style is wearing after a while but, in his defence, I remember buying "Red Shoes" in 1977 on Stiff and it just being a breath of fresh air - his initial bunch of singles were terrific.

Beatles - I can see both sides of the argument. The problem is perhaps one of overfamiliarity? We've all been steeped in their music (or derivatives of it) since early childhood or birth. Very difficult therefore to get an objective perspective. However, I have recently been going though a renaissance with them after reading Ian MacDonald's fabulous "Revolution In The Head" while on vacation. If you've never read it I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU DO SO IMMEDIATELY!! HMV has copies of it in the UK for £3 (that's right - a measly three fucking notes for the classic piece of rock writing). This coincided nicely with the lauded re-releases. I've heard some of them now. I have to say I'm not bowled over by all of what I've heard, but some of the remastered early(ish) singles ("I Feel Fine" and "We Can Work It Out" in particular) literally brought me to tears of joy - shivers down the spine, the whole shebang. Fucking hell - they were so, so, so gooooooooood. The book rather than the remasters has kind of reinspired me to fall in love with the Fabs all over again. They were, beyond doubt, the greatest. Period.

More "uncool" likes:
Tom Jones - oh yes indeed - the only one of his generation that could easily have sung with a top-line rock band, and done the business in spades.
Gilbert O'Sullivan - no tittering at the back please - this guy's image sucked, but he could write excellent melodies and the songs stand the test of time.
Status Quo - a bit of a parody of themselves now, but in their '70' heyday they were a fucking good four-on-the-floor rock band (cf "Piledriver", "Hello").
Fleetwood Mac - don't knock x million album sales. They were a fucking good, no-nonsense band.

More "cool" dislikes:
Morrisey - absolutely hopeless - has about 4 notes in his vocal "repertoire" and even with that limited range struggles to hit them in tune most of the time. Quirky lyrics do not, in my book, a great artist make. Although hats off to him for calling one song "Death At One's Elbow" - that kind of archness is in the Noel Coward league.
Johnny Marr - a great guitarist?? Come off it. He's a strummer, a chord man. One or two decent tunes though, in fairness.
Meatloaf/Jim Steinman - can't abide that kind of melodramatic, theatrical nonsense. Uuughh.
The Grateful Dead - zzzzzzzzzzzzz I think mostly dead by now, I'd be grateful if I gave enough of a shit.
Primal Scream (and just about anything originating from McGee's ghastly Creation label except The House Of Love ) - oh, just piss off.....
Ornette Coleman - always sounded like a fire at the zoo to me. He should have called his first album "The Emperor's New Clothes" - that would have confused the hell out of the pseuds who pretend they like this stuff (you know "is he being ironic here??, maybe it's a double bluff??").

And...................................finally.............................wait for it...............................................................................................................................................

THE CLASH - gasp!!!! - can he really mean it!! Hell yes. I disliked them from the get-go. Naturally I tried to like them - I even bought "White Riot" when it came out. But - no - I just could not reconcile what to me seemed a pretty thin musical talent with the sort of music that was/is my benchmark (cf The Fabs). And anyway Joe Strummer always sounded like he was singing with a marble in his mouth.
posted by MajorDundee at 9:35 AM on September 20, 2009

You're right, of course, on Costello...I dunno what I was thinking--Irish, not Scottish. My Aim is True was a real breath of fresh air when it came out, though, and it's one of my favourites.

Gallaghers, I couldn't care less--they're still useless cocks.

Wait, you don't like Meat Loaf or Steinman, but you like Todd Rundgren? How is that possible? Oh well--I've always been a fan of big, over the top instrumentation and production, when done well, and I consider most of theirs to be done well.

I feel you on the Tom Jones love--only Welshman to deserve it. Ever.

And as far as the Clash, I'd have to agree there. I appreciate them, historically, but really just don't care for the music at all--nothing particularly interesting that someone else didn't do significantly better around the same time.

InfidelZombie, same goes for the Replacements. I've enjoyed a song or two of theirs, but mostly it's just not very good, to me. Their fast songs are sloppy in a bad way.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 10:42 AM on September 20, 2009

The Replacements are what I call "an NME band" - i.e. the sort of outfit that a cabal of self-important wankers (think Tony Parsons or Julie Birchill) in a position to foist thier views on impressionistic record-buying yoof decide to get behind. Usually for abstruse reasons connected with "cool" (which usually starts from a position of exclusivity - the more popular an artist becomes, the less cool they are - must be some kind of algebraic equation that'd explain that as a general principle). Even better if the band has at least one junkie/incipient jailbird. Pete Docherty is a classic example of this phenomenon. A complete twat, but beloved of journalistic mummy's boys who like to do their hedonism vicariously.

A related journalist-created phenomenon is, of course, the "legendary, overlooked-in-their-time" outfit/artist - think Nick Drake, Big Star, Syd Barrett and, to some extent, Joy Division. It helps if death is involved. Drugs are good. Insanity is the icing on the cake. Some people appear to like thier stars to live on the edge, perhaps because they haven't the balls to do it themselves. It has fuck all to do with music - it's more to do with identity and is, actually, rather sad and pathetic.

There's so much bullshit and bollocks surrounding the whole issue of "popular music" - it'd make a good PhD proposal!
posted by MajorDundee at 3:02 PM on September 20, 2009

Should add to that that I wholly agree with Flapjax's view that the Beatles are above all of that cool/uncool or journalist-manufactured stuff. I'd add Bob Dylan to that very exclusive group. And I can't think of any others that qualify. Sinatra perhaps? The Stones don't quite make it because there's something squalid about them (imo, naturally).
posted by MajorDundee at 3:08 PM on September 20, 2009

While I understand that music can get "played out" eventually, I don't think it's happened to Zeppelin. Maybe you had really annoying roommates, LOOM, but I'm going to venture that Zep did to blues what the Beatles did to pop rock (before the latter went and did all sortsa other stuff, yes) and add them to the list of Untouched by Coolness. Is it safe to call Talented live performers an understatement..?
--Oh but I do get down with Cats, but better live, when I was 6.

..on nonsense music,

Uncool like:
Joseph Spence, which I always gotta watch out for when creating party shuffles.

Hipster hep dislike:
Wesley Willis. Can't do it. Though I will watch videos of him being adorable and headbumping people.
posted by JaiMahodara at 3:37 PM on September 20, 2009

Hmm... I'm having a hard time thinking of music in these categories (aren't Abba cool now? & what about Loudon Wainwright? & which U2 albums is it okay to like and which isn't?) but here are some things I'm pretty sure I can categorize.

Uncool likes: Summer Girls by LFO (no, not the ultracool technoband). What glorious nonsense those lyrics are. Also, catchy tune. Various cantopop songs, as an example here's Jolin Tsai's Bu La Ge Guang Chang.

Cool dislikes: Magnetic Fields. I like about 4 songs per album and loath the rest. 69 Love Songs is especially painful as I like about 4 songs and loath 65. This goes for all Stephin Merrit projects. Yo La Tengo. I've never connected with their music and some I just find annoying. Rufus Wainwright. I just don't like his songs and I find him one dimensional as a performer.
posted by Kattullus at 7:57 PM on September 20, 2009

Maybe you had really annoying roommates, LOOM

I did, but none of them were Zep heads, either. One was my brother, who has...questionable, at best, taste in anything. Another was obsessed with...*ulp*...Springsteen (I think I just threw up a little in my mouth), and the most recent liked junk like Oasis (What's The Story Morning Glory is the same song for an hour, and not in a good way) and Death Cab for Cutie--oh, and any Ben Folds Five song that wasn't fast and/or fun in any way. It had to be one of the depressing ones.

I've just never particularly enjoyed Zeppelin. They were great live performers, to be sure, but their records were, well...overproduced bollocks (in my honest opinion). Frankly, I can't even make it through half their live stuff, either, 'cause I honestly just fall asleep, I find it so dull. There are VERY few artists whose music I can even begin to sleep through, let alone put me to sleep, but Zeppelin is like the lovechild of Stanley Kubrick, Quentin Tarantino, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Frank Miller--should be interesting, exciting, or artistic, but it becomes just plain BORING.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 11:48 PM on September 20, 2009

uncool like:

If I mention it here it will just become cool in a minute

cool dislike:

I don't wish to end any careers at the moment. If you think U2 is cool then yes. That is a cool dislike.
posted by dagosto at 2:23 AM on September 21, 2009

ha! I think this thread is hilarious. Firstly that anyone would think that mainstream megabands such as ColdPlay, U2, Oasis are at all 'cool'...

and secondly that Fleetwood Mac could be considered a guilty favourite in the current climate (they are undeniably cool at the moment and constantly seem to be namedropped by everyone from DFA, Modular, Vice magazine etc.. all the 'cool' kids love Fleetwood Mac.)

how can you not get The Clash though? I've been a fan since i was 15 and these days i'm even more obsessed with them due to the production side of it.

my Guilty Secret would be Tegan & Sarah - who have just gone too mainstream to be cool any more.

Stuff I dont' get.. well thats most Minimal House. - I just think its boring.
posted by mary8nne at 3:08 AM on September 21, 2009

I love an awful lot of embarrassing stuff. A big part of it is that, unless I know a song reasonably well, I'm listening to the recording, and not the song. In many (most?) cases, I'd rather listen to a careful, well-done production of a mediocre song than a slipshod recordring of a good (or, occassionally, great) song.

Which brings me to another point, only somewhat related. I'm, frankly, not exposed to a whole lot of "new" rock music. I hear mostly what's on satellite radio. And most of it is awful. Obviously, that's always been the case. But the sense I get now is that a lot of what's "indie rock" and "alt rock" these days isn't rock music at all, but dancepop and synthpop that happens to have some jangly guitars here and there.

I could be entirely off-base here (it happens quite regularly), but I get the sense that, since these bands came up from rock roots, they wind up being produced and mixed by rock guys who, maybe, aren't familiar with what goes into a pop production. They think, oh, I'll make it like X pop record from the 80s, so they pitch the snare way down, and drown the vocals in digital reverb, and stick some 16th-note synth pattern into the chorus. But it never quite gells because they don't have a real love for the material.

Or the songs could just be terrible.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:44 AM on September 21, 2009

To answer the question, though:

All-American Rejects: Move Along is one of my favorite albums of the 21st century, which really isn't saying much, but honestly, it's a great pop-rock-emo album.
Jimmy Eat World: Nothing since, but Bleed American kicked pretty hard (the demos moreso than the album cuts, but it's still pretty good).
Journey: How do you not love Journey? Seriously. Likewise Boston.
Billy Joel: Yes, I'm a Long Islander. "Movin' Out" is still a great song. The fake book I bring camping has more Billy Joel in it than anything else (except maybe the Beatles).
Oasis: You hate them, I dig the hell out of them (well, some of their stuff, anyhow). Right place, right time, I suppose, although I still think "She's Electric" is a fantastic song.

Radiohead: I can bear Pablo Honey and The Bends, but beyond that I'd like to punch Thom Yorke in the throat.
NIN: There are some gems, but mostly I can't even listen to it. If I could just hear the hook of "March of the Pigs" without slogging through the rest of it, I'd be happy.
U2: Just ugh.

I think there are some really good songs on the first Barenaked Ladies album

I stood in the pouring rain in Boston in 1998 or 99 to see them. They were pretty damn good.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:04 AM on September 21, 2009

how can you not get The Clash though?

It's not always a matter of not "getting" them. Sometimes, they just don't gel with your personality and taste. Doesn't mean you don't appreciate what significance the hold for the music scene and music history, but the Clash are a festering pile of dog's bollocks.

Not really. They're not bad, though I don't really care for them. I just wanted to end a really objective sentence really subjectively.

I could be entirely off-base here (it happens quite regularly), but I get the sense that, since these bands came up from rock roots, they wind up being produced and mixed by rock guys who, maybe, aren't familiar with what goes into a pop production. They think, oh, I'll make it like X pop record from the 80s, so they pitch the snare way down, and drown the vocals in digital reverb, and stick some 16th-note synth pattern into the chorus. But it never quite gells because they don't have a real love for the material.

That's a good point--I hadn't really thought of it that way. Maybe it's secretly good (or at least better), but you can't quite tell because the people in charge of making it sound good aren't even tying to make the production enhance the source material, rather than just using the same recording/production techniques they've used on everything since 1972. It's entirely possible.

Likely, though, it'd just be icing on the crap cake.

Man, I love being an elitist. Obviously, so do the rest of us.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 7:12 AM on September 21, 2009

I don't feel guilty about it, but I definitely stand alone in liking Muzak. I suppose it falls in line with my opinion that 99.9% of mainstream pop/rock would be improved if the vocal melody were either removed or performed by a different instrument.

Also, I don't pretend to care what others consider 'cool', but mark me down in the 'doesn't care for Led Zeppelin' column. I was over the 12-bar blues in high school. And I'm bewildered as to why classic rock stations have Tom Petty and Steve Miller in such heavy rotation. That era had way more to offer than what historical radio would lead a listener to believe.
posted by man vs sun at 7:18 AM on September 21, 2009

I could be entirely off-base here (it happens quite regularly), but I get the sense that, since these bands came up from rock roots, they wind up being produced and mixed by rock guys who, maybe, aren't familiar with what goes into a pop production. They think, oh, I'll make it like X pop record from the 80s, so they pitch the snare way down, and drown the vocals in digital reverb, and stick some 16th-note synth pattern into the chorus. But it never quite gells because they don't have a real love for the material.

I don't think thats really it at all though. I think its more that you've got kids who grew up maybe listening to Grunge / Dirty Indie stuff, Beck, Hip-Hop, techno, Noise, etc who are now writing "pop songs" but don't see a need to make it sound like Britney / NKOTB /polished pop. They don't even want it to sound like that over-produced stuff. But they still want to write pop songs.

So you get MGMT, The Kills, DFA, anything on Modular etc..
posted by mary8nne at 7:53 AM on September 21, 2009

They don't even want it to sound like that over-produced stuff.

Again, I could be wrong--my experience is (chiefly) limited to what I hear on the alt rock satellite radio station--but that's not the impression that I get. It's like they're aiming for a part of the pop sound and missing. Beck, to use your example, was slick as hell (as were Nevermind, Dirt, and a host of other grunge-era albums). There's miles and miles between muddy, confused mixes, all reverb and crunch, and 'N Sync, and I think I'd rather hear songs somewhere in that middle ground.

Now get off my lawn before I turn the hose on ya.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:33 AM on September 21, 2009

mary8anne - I didn't say I didn't "get" The Clash, I said I didn't think they were any good. In an apparently absurd contradiction, I loved the Sex Pistols. Why the difference? The Pistols never made any pretence to be anything more than bullshit, and I loved 'em for it. They were a massive Situationist piss-take. "Ever had the feeling you've been cheated?" - the best quote in all of rock music. The Clash were just too po-faced and pretentious (and crap!!).

LOOM - I feel your pain re Led Zep and, as a kid, I loathed them too (and Deep Purple). But I have grown to enjoy their no-frills early albums. They were pretty ground-breaking in their day. Just listen to "Good Times, Bad Times" from LZ1 - even just Bonham's ultra cool nailed-down drumming on that is enough to transfix me. Open yer ears and give 'em another go my man!

It's like they're aiming for a part of the pop sound and missing

I think it's more than that. I don't listen to much new stuff (except via my kids) and what I'm hearing, more than inappropriate/unimaginative productions, is a lot of......well......shameless plagiarism. One reason I stopped really hunting for new bands was because I got sick of hearing stuff and then suddenly thinking "hang on a minute...that's the bridge section from "All The Young Dudes" isn't it??". I know that pilfering ideas has been around since God was a boy, but it now seems to be utterly blatant. At least the Beatles etc had the grace to attempt to disguise their steals. The latest example is best highlighted in the following exchange:

I'm in HMV in Bristol (buying the remastered Sgt Pepper actually) and there's a band playing over the system. I go to the checkout:

Me "Who's that then? They sound like they've been listening to too many Queen albums"
Geezer "It's Muse"
Me "As in a-Muse?" (oh how very witty of me)
Geezer "Yeah.... ok....... some of it sounds a bit like Queen, but it's ok 'cos it's sort of ironic like, innit?
Me "Oh really?? I bet Brian May is laughing all the way to his lawyer's office. They've also chucked a bit of The Killers in as well. Christ, they must be desperate for a hit. Sounds like the label has it's hand up their arses"
Geezer "Yeah....I suppose you could say there's a similarity, but Muse were around before The Killers"
Me "Rrrriiiiighhhttt - so it's ok to half-inch their sound then. I never knew that was how it worked. Thank you, have a splendid day."
posted by MajorDundee at 1:14 PM on September 21, 2009


I'd have to agree, re: Muse. Once you get past the novelty of the ridiculous falsetto, there's really not much to them.

I've given Zeppelin so many chances, and sometimes like some of their stuff--Black Dog is a great song, but I enjoyed it more when covered by Heart. Ann Wilson has a MUCH better voice than Bob Plant. I like most of Presence, and enjoyed the stupid theremin-ing on Whole Lotta Love (a trick after me own heart).

As far as the rest of it, I just didn't enjoy much of it--part of that may be my disdain for Plant's godawful voice. The rest of it is that they only seem to know how to rock in short bursts. It always breaks down into a long, boring solo section. The only one I truly like, the majority of the time, is John Paul Jones's bass, and the occasion that Mr. Page decides to do some acoustic guitar work.

How many more goes do I have to give 'em before I can finally give up on them and people will leave me alone on it?
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 2:00 PM on September 21, 2009

Once you start making the argument that something is not legitimate, you're going to lose that argument.
posted by Corduroy at 2:35 PM on September 21, 2009

Ok ok LOOM we'll let you off this time (although the Heart mention is deeply troubling - I had to back someone in a studio doing a cover of one of their songs 25 years ago and am still nauseaous). While I'm here, the Meatloaf/Rundgren dichotomy/parallax/thingy. I don't see these artists as in any way synonymous. Meatloaf is crap. Rundgren isn't. Simple!

And, mary8nne, as for Fleetwood Mac now being cool. On which planet?
posted by MajorDundee at 2:42 PM on September 21, 2009

No-one's arguing corduroy - we're just pissing about (Christ, I hope no-one is taking any of this's proving, merely, that cool/uncool is complete bollocks as a concept).
posted by MajorDundee at 2:44 PM on September 21, 2009

The Great Big Mulp: The Might be Giants is one of my all time favorite bands...Have you heard the album/CD "NO"? I know it's supposed to be for kids, but it is incredibly cool and good.

askmeaboutLOOM vs. Led Zeppelin: I couldn't agree more. I love them as much as I love any kind of riff-based-rock (and that's after many years of idolizing Page), but Plant could have gone with less-is-more. After so many "ooh ooh, ah ah, baby baby babies" I really have to turn it off.

MajorDundee vs. Boston: Yea, they kinda suck and the lyrics are often cheezy, but theirs was one of the first 8 tracks that I purchased. After years of listening to the Eagles, Neil Young and the Doobies (ala my Pop), I thought Boston was pretty hot shit. Ah, my next purchase was Van Halen I. Woo hoo!

Van Halen I, cool or not so much?
posted by snsranch at 6:39 PM on September 21, 2009

They Might Be Giants are a really cool band, clearly.

Oh, and is old-school Jesus freak rocker Larry Norman cool or not? On the one hand, Christian rocker, on the other, really weird.
posted by Kattullus at 7:01 PM on September 21, 2009

On the TMBG front, I'm making sure my 1-year-old nephew grows up on "Here Come the ABCs," "Here Come the 123s," and now "Here Comes Science!"

They're cool to those "in the know." They're still not very well known--especially not well enough to quite qualify for this, I think.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 7:46 PM on September 21, 2009

I think the definition of being cool musically is being cool to those "in the know."
posted by Kattullus at 8:02 PM on September 21, 2009

Fleetwood Mac yeah they are kinda cool again to the hipster new-disco scene. (if a little obvious).

and a bunch fo current hipster bands are referenceing ("ripping off" if you prefer) their sound.
posted by mary8nne at 5:48 AM on September 22, 2009

Uncool like: Joseph Spence, which I always gotta watch out for when creating party shuffles.

I like Joseph Spence, too, but isn't he, well, more than a little outside the cool/uncool loop? I mean, how many people even know who Spence is? Surely "unknown" would be a more apt descriptor.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:55 AM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

snsranch - Van Halen 1 is definitely cool. I got hold of an sacd version a couple of years back and it sounds fucking awesome. The ace partnership of Ted Templeman & Don Landee at the controls if memory serves. Their secret for VH1? Keep it dead simple. Never been a major fan of Eddie VH in terms of content, but he got a good sound (always thought he was playing a lot of musical candy-floss - can't remember what you call that stuff in the USA - cotton candy??). But I love the preposterous David Lee Roth cos' he doesn't take it seriously. And that's cool.

To add to my list of "beyond the cool" artists: Miles Davis, Jimi, Charlie Parker. This on the grounds that these guys created paradigm shifts in music. As did the Fabs and Dylan. If you apply that stringent test it really sorts the wheat from the chaff.
posted by MajorDundee at 12:31 PM on September 22, 2009

Tom Jones - oh yes indeed - the only one of his generation that could easily have sung with a top-line rock band, and done the business in spades.

I didn't feel this way about Tom Jones until he came out with Reload. He did duets of cover songs with a bunch of contemporary artists, and he totally pulled it off without seeming cheesy or out of place. In fact, I kind of felt sorry for some of the other singers like Robbie Williams who had to try to out-sing him. It's a shame that most people in the US never heard about that album.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:26 PM on September 22, 2009

I wouldn't put Hendrix on that list, personally--Same deal as Zeppelin, though he sung even worse than Plant. Blues with noise. I'd rather listen to Buddy Guy.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 1:37 PM on September 22, 2009

I disagree very strongly LOOM. Hendrix was a million miles away from Led Zep - or anyone else for that matter. Jimi Hendrix put the "electric" in electric guitar. Before him everyone (including Clapton et al) played the electric guitar in the same way as an acoustic - but amplified and maybe distorted. Jimi Hendrix created a paradigm shift that saw the birth of the electric guitar as a distinctive instrument. He did things with it that no-one else had done before. He also spawned entire genres of rock music. He was not a great singer or songwriter, but he was the best rock guitarist there's ever been - and then some. He was not technically brilliant - but he had passion and soul to burn and I'd take Jimi any day over your Joe Satriani's and other flash-merchants. Forget all the showmanship and bullshit he did - that's just a distraction. Given your trained background, I suggest you get hold of his "Band Of Gypsies" album, get some headphones on and let him blow your mind with "Machine Gun". That's the most awesome piece of improvised electric guitar playing I've ever heard - or am likely ever to hear. Miles Davis recognised Hendrix's astonishing improvisatory abilities and, I think, was planning to work with him before his untimely death. Now - that would have been a pretty fucking awesome thing to hear........
posted by MajorDundee at 2:54 PM on September 22, 2009

He got most of his techniques from Buddy Guy, who'd been doing a lot of them 10 years earlier.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 8:16 PM on September 22, 2009

Miles Davis was served far better by the guitar playing of John McLaughlin than he ever would have been in any collaboration with Hendrix.

I dunno, TWF... "than he ever would have been", those are some pretty big words. We simply can't know what a collaboration between the two would have resulted in. Musical meetings are unpredictable, all the more so when you're talking about musical meetings between giants, as would've been the case in a Hendrix/Miles collaboration. Granted, it could have fallen apart, it could have been a disaster. Then again... it could have been spectacular. But one thing to consider is this: your phrase,

Miles Davis was served far better by the guitar playing of John McLaughlin...

That's presupposing that a Miles/Hendrix collaboration would've had the same dynamic as the relationship between Miles and McLaughlin, which it almost certainly wouldn't have had, IMO. McLaughlin was a young and well-schooled (in the jazz tradition) sideman: one in a long line of Miles Davis sidemen. The "Miles Davis was served" here is key. McLaughlin's relation to Miles was in fact more in the nature of "serving" Miles, as you put it, than Hendrix's relation to Miles would have been, IMO. I think Hendrix's blues/rock roots, and his lack of background in the more rarefied theoretical worlds of jazz would quite likely have resulted in an entirely different "methodology" (for want of a better term) on Miles Davis's part, when working with Hendrix.

Of course, we can never know.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:22 PM on September 22, 2009

No-one's arguing corduroy - we're just pissing about (Christ, I hope no-one is taking any of this's proving, merely, that cool/uncool is complete bollocks as a concept).

My mistake. Carry on, ignore my rain. I will add my own likes and dislikes to the thread a bit later.
posted by Corduroy at 6:18 AM on September 23, 2009

Wise words, as ever, from Flapjax - I agree entirely.

LOOM - I could argue the toss re Hendrix, but I don't think I need to defend him - his legacy speaks for itself. Let's agree to disagree, huh?

John McLaughlin. Without question he has a phenomenal technique and a musical intellect to match. Personally, although the jazzer in me cannot but respond to him, I've always felt that the pizzazz masks what is fundamentally a rather cold, cerebral aesthetic. A "head" player rather than a "heart" player, John McLaughlin often impresses but rarely moves. Again as a purely personal view (I don't want to start a fire), I feel that his contribution to Miles' work - primarily the "In A Silent Way" sessions - leaves quite a lot to be desired. His playing on this is ponderous, desultory, uncommitted and, frankly, out-of-tune. Some may say, of course, that the hesitancy is what the material called for. Perhaps that's true. But what I hear on the album is a very nervous young guitarist tentatively prodding around because (a) he can't find a way into the piece and (b) he's shitting himself in the presence of Miles. Which is entirely understandable - I would have run away. But his playing spoils the album for me. Apologies to those who like it.

If you want to get the faintest whiff of what the Miles/Hendrix collaboration might have sounded like.....Bitches Brew and the like are perhaps pointers. But as Flapjax observes - we can never know.
posted by MajorDundee at 12:04 PM on September 23, 2009

For the most part, I agree with Karlos the Jackal in that I don't really have any guilty pleasures. I'm an aging punker who still finds his musical tastes best represented by The Stranglers, D.O.A. and Johnny Cash. At the same time, I make no bones at all about how much I enjoyed Pink's debut album or the fact that I think Eminem is a musical genius.

On the other hand, there is one sort of exception. I generally have no patience for what the kids are calling "indie rock." My wife, on the other hand, is a huge fan. So, whenever there is an individual song I enjoy, like "Float On" by Modest Mouse, I feel a guilty need to keep it secret, lest she take it as an invitation to inundate me with terrible music.
posted by 256 at 1:19 PM on September 23, 2009

....and I chose my words very carefully when I said "rarely". An example of that rarity is his exquisite reading of "My Foolish Heart" on "Electric Guitarist" - although even there he never really quite opens his heart somehow (Christ that sounds pretentious, doesn't it?). Funnily enough my suspicion as to why he rarely plays anything slow and reflective is because he has a pretty awful vibrato. And if you want to play slowly and lyrically a good, natural-sounding vibrato is a prerequisite. It's something that I think many people don't realise is such a crucially important thing. In fact, to me that's one really key thing that sorts out good guitarists from wannabees. And you either have it, or you don't. Just my opinion, naturally.
posted by MajorDundee at 2:35 PM on September 23, 2009

I could argue the toss re Hendrix, but I don't think I need to defend him - his legacy speaks for itself. Let's agree to disagree, huh?

I never disagreed with disagreeing ::grin:: Never said he wasn't good, nor that he didn't have a lot of influence on days to come--just that I don't care for his music. His particular combination of guitar style, sound, and technique, along with a voice I find to be, well, unpleasant, makes his music difficult for me to listen to, and even more so to enjoy. Yes, he was the one to bring those techniques to the masses, but I think many others who followed in his wake did better (e.g. Pete Townshend).

Lest one should think I'm trying to pick a fight, I'm merely enjoying this energetic exchange of opinion. I'm not trying to get anyone else to dislike Hendrix or Zeppelin, so we're clear.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 11:13 PM on September 23, 2009

posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:56 PM on September 23, 2009

I've always found that Pete Cosey's work with Miles Davis was very satisfying.
posted by nicolin at 8:32 AM on September 24, 2009


posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 9:22 AM on September 24, 2009

Jamiroquai. Traveling Without Moving was the first album I ever bought and I still have a soft spot for their music but good golly is he ever on the outs today.
posted by Kattullus at 9:56 AM on September 24, 2009

My final uncool nominee - Sting. Always gets it in the neck. Sneered at by the self-appointed arbiters of cool - even his missus gets clobbered on a regular basis. He's a gifted musician who happens to look good, have a brain and be very wealthy. Perhaps the reason for the attacks is simple jealousy? The Police were fantastic. They achieved that rarest of things - musical sophistication that never came across as showy or esoteric, and was hugely popular with the great unwashed. That's a difficult trick to pull off. Personally I can listen again and again to Sting's solo tracks like "Seven Days" (a tour de force) and never get over the absolutely brilliant songwriting, performance and arrangement - and admit to myself that my own modest efforts will never get close to that. Give the guy his due, huh?
posted by MajorDundee at 12:34 PM on September 24, 2009

Well, all I can say TWF is that you have excellent taste. Oh and your guitar playing makes the "good" category (not that my opinion matters a rat's arse). I just checked out your most recent upload "Open" - that's really good stuff man - I'm impressed.
posted by MajorDundee at 12:58 PM on September 24, 2009


I was just riffing and fooling around, LOOM. It don't mean a thing, brother! ;)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:27 PM on September 24, 2009

Ah, hell, that was s'posed to be a smile - :)
not a wink - ;)

Can't even get my little smiley guys right...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:29 PM on September 24, 2009

posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 4:06 PM on September 24, 2009


That rings a bell... weren't they one of those sadcore bands that later went emo? No, wait... screamo. Yeah, screamo.

They're definitely one of my cool dislikes. Or... uncool dislikes. Can't remember which.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:15 PM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I saw Emotifail back in '02 before they sold out to the man. They opened for Failjax at Midnite. That show changed my life in so many ways.
posted by man vs sun at 4:41 PM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sting is an interesting case that, to me, presents evidence for "cool" being a musical quality. A lot of people are familiar with Johnny Cash's version of I Hung My Head. It's quite a few people's favorite song off Cash's American albums (mine, for example). It's a brilliantly written song, wonderful lyrics, great melody and chord progression etc. Johnny Cash, who has cool in spades, kills the song. Sting's original version of I Hung My Head, however, is just dreadful. Painful to listen to (and I like quite a lot of Sting). The tragedy of Sting (if such a term can be applied to a guy rich enough to live in a castle) is that while he never lost his talent or skill he lost his cool. He's still writing good songs but the arrangements are just so... lame. Uncool. They're painful.
posted by Kattullus at 7:34 PM on September 24, 2009

Jamiroquai. Traveling Without Moving was the first album I ever bought and I still have a soft spot for their music but good golly is he ever on the outs today.
posted by Kattullus

Uf! Did I mourn that death. I loved the lineup from the first three albums and after the bass player left (and then the rest of them) it got progressively worse until it reached what it is today. For me it was one of those bands with such good music, that it didn't matter that the lyrics were unbearably bad.

Uncool likes: I don't feel guilty about it, but whenever I say I actually like Shakira's music a lot people immediately categorize me as "incapable of judging music".

Dislikes: I can't stand Coldplay or U2. And even though I don't hate them, I don't understand all the fuzz around the Pixies.
posted by micayetoca at 5:53 AM on September 25, 2009

Mica - With you re The Pixies - don't get that at all. Coldplay - ditto. Late-period U2 likewise - but early U2 (up to and including The Joshua Tree) disagree. They were a good band - who admittedly benefitted from good producers (Steve Lillywhite and the Eno/Lanois nexus). Mind you, at that point they had a serious rival in Simple Minds (Sparkle In The Rain is a great album - another Steve Lillywhite job) - who also went "off" later.

But Jamiroquai....oh good gracious me no, no and thrice NOOOOoooooo!!. I'll have to go and have a lie down now. Always sounds to me like a third rate Stevie Wonder rip-off. And if I want to listen to Stevie I just reach for Innervisions or Talking Book (or the underrated Fullfillngness' First Finale) and am immediately transported to a better place.......
posted by MajorDundee at 6:07 AM on September 25, 2009

inering discussion of Sting above. I'm listening to I Hung my Head on spotify now. It is pretty bad reminds me of Bryan Adams..

Listening to Johnny Cash version. it works much better as that stripped back Jcash sound.

yet a lot of the Police Stuff is really quite good. Roxanne, Message in A bottle, Can't stand losing you..etc..
posted by mary8nne at 6:37 AM on September 25, 2009

sounds to me like a third rate Stevie Wonder rip-off

You are absolutely right, but being my age and from where I am, I heard Jamiroquai before I heard Stevie Wonder (apart from I Just Called To Say...).

And I'll agree with most of the things people say against Jamiroquai, but I still think the bass playing in the first three albums is as good as good bass playing gets, and that the band, while it might have not created anything new, had musicianship and good taste (we are not discussing their horrid lyrics).
posted by micayetoca at 8:15 AM on September 25, 2009

yet a lot of the Police Stuff is really quite good.

That made me smile - kind of damned with faint praise! A friend of mine once said that one of my demos was "nearly very good". Ha!

Check out Sting's "Seven Days" mary8nne (I think it's on "Ten Summoner's Tales"), and marvel at the way he keeps the chorus lifting by using unexpected chord changes. Sting is allowed a few clunkers, and I'm no disciple - there are generally a few stinkers on each album. But it's worth it - when he gets it right, he really nails it. Even if it's only on a couple of tracks.

The Johnny Cash connection introduces an interesting twist in the tail of this thread......."cool" artists who cover songs by "uncool" artists. (Heh). I mean Mr Cash covered "One" by (late period ergo uncool) U2. So how does that square with someone who venerates Cash but vilifies U2 or, indeed, vice versa? Anyway - I think he missed a really obvious cover. He should have taken a punt at Floyd's "Money". "Money" by Johnny "Cash" would have been top dollar (cue gales of laughter).
posted by MajorDundee at 2:37 PM on September 25, 2009

Should have added to that, Mica, that your response re Jamiroquai was very open-handed. I will check out the bass-playing. Can you recommend anything in particular? Talking of bass-playing one track that has a bass-line that's almost in the James Jamerson league is by a Brit band (now sadly defunkt) called "Dubstar". The track is "No More Talk".

Actually that triggers yet another sub-thread. "Unsung heroes" or "Nearly bands". Bands/Artists that should have been huge, but never got there for one reason or another. Dubstar's first album "Disgraceful" is absolutely fucking fantastic. Another of my "Nearlies" is a band called "Diesel Park West" whose first album (on the EMI subsidiary Food - home of Blur) - "Shakespeare, Alabama" - is magic. The fact that I jammed with them once has, of course, nothing to do with it!
posted by MajorDundee at 2:56 PM on September 25, 2009

Before him everyone (including Clapton et al) played the electric guitar in the same way as an acoustic - but amplified and maybe distorted.

no - dick dale, duane eddy, pete townshend, link wray, bb king and a few other blues players were treating it as a different instrument, too, just not as radically

i have no idea what's cool or uncool anymore but

the monkees - certainly uncool at the time but they were my first record purchase - and as time has gone on the combination of 60s brill building pop and l a studio musicianship has worn pretty well - not to mention that last train to clarksville is one of the darker "innocent" pop tunes ever recorded - (the destination after clarksville, tn was vietnam)

the grateful dead - well, they must be uncool, everyone tells me they are - and i've kind of gotten a bit burned out on them myself, but when they weren't playing me and my uncle for the 500th time or going through the motions they could be an amazingly inspired band, especially in the 60s and 70s

van halen - my best friend insisted on playing eruption for me when the first album came out - "isn't that amazing?"

"no - he missed a note and it's just wanking anyway - hmmm - i think i liked the kinks' version better"

the songs have grown on me a bit, but that whole style just doesn't move me - i go to guitar center and there's these kids who are wanking out these intricate arpeggios at warp speed, something i admit i simply can't do - and then i'll start improvising a 12 bar blues or something and they'll say, "what lick is that?"

"oh, i'm just making it up"

*blank look*

replacements - i guess i just don't get them either, except for "alex chilton"

alex chilton - was the lead singer of the boxtops - people forget that - big star was fine, but "neon rainbow", "cry like a baby" and "the letter" were classic

pavement - i should probably listen to more of their later stuff but i couldn't get into that first album - interesting songs, interesting ideas, bad drumming

richard harris - his two albums with jimmy webb are the pinnacle of cheezy, over-arranged 60s pop - especially mc arthur's park

katrina and the waves - they were a great band - really

yes - at their peak, they were utterly amazing - and side one of tales of topographic oceans was and is a brilliant translation of symphonic music into rock - the rest of it, not so much

peter gabriel era genesis - they were more than just a progressive rock band - on lamb lies down, they pretty much came up with a lot of the sounds that would become new wave - then they let that drummer guy take over

stupid pop - at least once or twice a year i find an amazingly annoying, stupid pop song that i really like - fergie's clumsy was one
posted by pyramid termite at 6:23 AM on September 26, 2009

(the destination after clarksville, tn was vietnam)

Wasn't aware of that connection, pt. Thanks for that tidbit. That was always my favorite Monkees song by far, yet I never really paid much attention to the lyrics. Interesting entry on the song at Wikipedia.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:51 AM on September 26, 2009

Fair comment re pre-Hendrix guitarists pyramid. Interesting what you say about arpeggiated wankery and spotty teenagers. Most of them see playing as a sport - you know, who can be the Hussain Bolt (sp?) of the fretboard. All very competitive and testosterone-fuelled. It's pretty indistinguishable at the heart of it from motorbikes and all that bollocks. I avoid music shops as a rule (having run one for a few years many years ago) but on the rare occasions I visit one I always find the competitive atmosphere richly amusing. It's like walking into the saloon bar in some cheesy western - "hey stranger, you lookin' for trouble?". And then the local hot-shots start fingering their axes and stealing sidelong glances at you. It's an absolute hoot! It's even funnier if you are, as I am, a mild-mannered, short, balding, paunchy, middle-aged geezer who's as far from cool as it's possible to be and when you plug in you piss all over them from a great height! It's wicked I know - but Christ it's fun just to watch their crestfallen and baffled faces.
posted by MajorDundee at 7:13 AM on September 26, 2009

I think my big thing, re: Hendrix is that, yes, he was the first one to use the electric guitar as radically as he did (or at least the first that acheived any semi-mainstream success (he was technically a one-hit wonder)), but that doesn't mean he's the best. It doesn't men that the others he inspired didn't do it better. Look at Brian May, Alex Lifeson, Pete Townshend, Adrian Belew, Robert Fripp, Frank Zappa, et al. They all took influence from his original innovation, and ran with it in (in, of course, my opinion) better, more interesting, aesthetically pleasing and useful ways.

Hell, look at May's Red Special--built the guitar with his dad, designed to work with feedback with minimal effort, constructively. Along with John Deacon's custom retro-fitted amp, he's been able to produce sounds no guitar had ever made before--so much so that people refused to believe that it was a guitar, causing them to print "no synthesizers were used in the making of this record," for clarification.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 7:57 AM on September 26, 2009

he was technically a one-hit wonder)), but that doesn't mean he's the best. It doesn't men that the others he inspired didn't do it better. Look at Brian May, Alex Lifeson, Pete Townshend, Adrian Belew, Robert Fripp, Frank Zappa, et al. They all took influence from his original innovation, and ran with it in (in, of course, my opinion) better, more interesting, aesthetically pleasing and useful ways.

I'm sorry LOOM me old spud, but that really is way off the mark IMO. I think it might be that Hendrix is a guitarist's guitarist - perhaps that's why there's such a gulf here? I actually laughed out loud and I think all of the guys you list there would probably join me in that. I'm genuinely not being rude here mate, but I think you just don't "get" Hendrix - he had qualities that none of those guys (good guitarists all of them, no argument there) could get close to and which I can't adequately set down in text. Sure they took a lead from him - haven't we all - but he was the ur-guitarist and none of them is "better" (whatever that means). And, frankly, I'd be astonished if any of them disagreed with that. He had an instinctive animal connection and inventiveness, an immediacy of expression, an organic one-ness with the instrument, the power and the fucking glory. Amen.
posted by MajorDundee at 12:39 PM on September 26, 2009

he had qualities that none of those guys (good guitarists all of them, no argument there) could get close to and which I can't adequately set down in text. Sure they took a lead from him - haven't we all

i can't resist - there's points on both sides of this debate - hendrix did have something, just a pure feel for the guitar combined with technical ability that few people before him had - but we all influenced by hendrix? - pete townshend, for example, was getting marshall amps at the same time hendrix was and he was pretty much using them loudly and proudly as a rhythm player most of the time - and in spite of being confronted with his musicianship in person, i don't think eric clapton was that influenced by hendrix either - he already had his own thing going which for the most part didn't rely so much on loud distortion - so did jeff beck, who was getting that kind of sound before anyone had heard of hendrix - i've heard bootleg tapes of buffalo springfield and it seems to me that neil young had already come up with his own brand of over the top distortion - and then there was jerry garcia, duane allman and dickie betts, all of whom seemed to be more interested in a cleaner sound

i think that the loud, overfried guitar sound was coming anyway and that many musicians would have passed it by, as they did - but i doubt that the sound would have been introduced with the funkiness and just free flowing musicianship that hendrix had

by the way, curtis mayfield was a big influence on hendrix's rhythm guitar playing - people just don't come out of a vacuum like that, unless they're the shaggs

(oh, yeah, of course, i'm influenced by hendrix ...)
posted by pyramid termite at 2:45 PM on September 26, 2009

PT - it is an irresistable debate, isn't it. And one with absolutely no conclusion! I think your analysis is pretty well spot-on. I wonder though whether a key distinction that can be drawn here is that whilst all the guys you cite were exploring and looking for a sound (even Clapton - who dumped the Les Pauls and 335s for Strats in the end), Hendrix emerged with the whole package - i.e. in a sense he'd already found what the others were searching for. So, after his appearance, a new paradigm emerged that set the standard and entire concept for the electric guitar. I don't think it's a stretch to say that most guitarists post-1966 are influenced by Hendrix directly or indirectly. Hendrix may well have welded together various influences in getting his thing together, but that's kind of immaterial. His sound and approach to soloing remains, in my view, paradigmatic. I could write reams on this topic, but I guess in the end it's all pretty subjective. So I'll shut the fuck up!
posted by MajorDundee at 4:40 PM on September 26, 2009

(even Clapton - who dumped the Les Pauls and 335s for Strats in the end)

on youtube somewhere there's a video of hendrix doing red house in sweden with a sg - he looks miserable about it, although i think he should have given it a few more tries, as i wonder what he could have done with it in time

still sounds damn good but it obviously didn't to him

Hendrix emerged with the whole package - i.e. in a sense he'd already found what the others were searching for.

yes and no - he certainly had a great tone from the get go and several others were still searching - but judging from "the cry of love" - or what's now called "first rays of the new rising sun" and "south saturn delta" - he was starting to look for a cleaner, more subtle set of sounds
posted by pyramid termite at 8:37 PM on September 26, 2009

Hey, not the greatest web site, but still an interesting read about Jimi and the chitlin circuit.

I'm pretty sure that the entire time Jimi was touring the chitlins, he was bored as hell and thinking, "One of these days, I'm gonna blow these motherfucker's minds." And he did.

I think the brother was more artist than musician though. I can't think of anyone before or after him that could spill their guts via guitar strings the way he did.

I have more Gibsons than Fenders, but I'm kind of a rigid player. If I really had the need for fluidity like Jimi and others like him, I'd be hitting the strat too and my second up would be the 335.

Gotta go find that vid of Jimi on SG!
posted by snsranch at 6:53 PM on September 29, 2009

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