What’s wrong with maturity?

Listening to “Snow” on the iPod got my brain working .The Red Hot Chili Peppers have been around a long time. The catalog of  albums show growth as artists and human beings. This is the exception rather than the rule.

Case in point and coming to a hockey rink or basketball arena near you is the “Midwest Rock N’ Roll Express” featuring R.E.O Speedwagon, STYX and Ted Nugent. I don’t know the exact line-up of each band, but I would guess you are going to get Kevin Cronin from R.E.O, Tommy Shaw from STYX and Terrible Ted himself at a minimum. As rock fans we sometimes don’t want the artists to mature and evolve. We want to hear Cat Scratch Fever and Come Sail Away over and over again. “Roll with the Changes” is a great song and I want to hear it in the cave but I’m not sure I want to hear it without Gary Richrath playing it. The original versions of these bands used to fill stadiums and now it takes all three of them to ¾ fill a hockey rink. This is stardom being sent down to the minors to live off the glory days. This is Spinal Tap in real life. The ugly side of nostalgia; there will not be many young people at these shows. You never want to see your heroes eating day old egg salad sandwiches at the bowling alley late at night when once they were gods. But there you go….get your tickets now or wait ‘till next year when you can catch them opening up for a puppet show at the county fair.

Disclaimer:

I am quite aware of the irony of me, a nobody, taking shots at these guys when I am not qualified to scare wildebeests out of the bush so Ted can take a shot with his machine gun and opening for a puppet show at the fair would qualify as my best day of the year!

5 perfect rock songs

"The moonlit knight" Genesis, Massey...
“The moonlit knight” Genesis, Massey Hall, Toronto, Oct. 1974 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you lived in some alien universe and happen to crash land your U.F.O in my back yard. I would make you a good cup of tea and play these 5 for you as prime examples of this thing called rock.

5. Yellow-Coldplay

Coldplay is like a quality lager….bright and satisfying. I don’t care if they have taken over the world; they are still producing a quality product that is very drinkable. This is a great song that music fans all over the world will crank up loud when it hits the radio or Pandora or iPod (whether they admit to it or not)

4. Cortez the Killer- Neil Young

My personal favorite is from “Live Rust” and this is a masterpiece. We know the story of Cortez and Montezuma. We know it as history but this track converts that historical angst to emotion. So many rock songs are about “women does man wrong” or “man does women wrong” – but this- Conquistador does a civilization wrong by removing it from the face of the earth is an elegant twist.

3. Go your own way- Fleetwood Mac

 Lindsey Buckingham is kind of underrated as a song writer and guitar player. Most songs about unrequited love are kind of depressing and bring you down. This one has a kick to it. Like soaking those cooked chicken wings of despair in a hot tangy buffalo sauce and taking a big bite.

 2. Smells like Teen Spirit- Nirvana

The timing on this makes it perfect.  In 1991 hip hop was taking over in a big way…Rock was stale- the charts were full of reheated leftovers and half-hearted efforts by big stars. Rock had lost its edge. This song was a kick to the balls that Rock Music needed in a big way. When you heard it…it knocked you over.

Just for fun kids-Let’s look at a couple reheats and stale artists from 1991 –

“Live and Let Die” Guns and Roses- really Axel and Slash? You had to cover this? You guys couldn’t find other ways to pay for all the hotel rooms you trashed…how about working at the hotel instead of this reheat?

Kiss- God gave Rock and Roll to you– Yes, he gave it to us to help us make sense of this world…he did not  mean for us to add water and boil a novelty song by Argent for a movie soundtrack so Gene Simmons could buy more jewelry for his girlfriends.

As far as the half hearted attempts go…Bryan Adams and Genesis (The “hey, let’s try to sound like Motown, only with weaker songs- Phil Collins version of Genesis…instead of the “hey, let’s be like Pink Floyd, only more theatrical and pretentious- Genesis with Peter Gabriel*”) both had multiple hits that year.

My apologies to Metallica as Enter Sandman was released this same year…I won’t call it perfect but I would not argue against it.

1. Hotel California- The Eagles

Is this about heaven or hell or drugs or being seduced by desert women? I don’t know- but book me a room here.  It’s full of references to some kind of unavoidable trap that we all fall for even though we should know better. This took the Eagles from country rock to cool as a fresh breaker from the Pacific Ocean. Joe Walsh added just enough to put this over the top. This is what a title track and an album cover should be. Rock songs should take you somewhere- give your brain a bit of a work over and let you find your own way back.  Perfect.

*Disclaimer- I love Peter Gabriel…The New Blood show of 2011 is the single best concert I ever attended!