Thursday, March 23, 2006

Rock Phenomenology


I want to take you to a place you've never allowed yourself to really be before. You've gone there, but you never gave your ears full permission.

Part of the point of this site, it’s always seemed to me, has been the passionate defense of the indefensible. It’s sort of like being one of those ACLU lawyers who go to court for the right of the KKK to hold a march. Only it's music. And it's really not important. Still, it’s the tough cases that put your beliefs to the test. Here are two. But before even mentioning the names, I think some rock phenomenology is in order. These names have been damaged by the accreted scorn and derision heaped on them over the years. Try and empty your mind of all the associations you might have. Strip away the layers of presupposition, the prejudice, and remember: something can be wrong while still retaining a truth value.

Journey - "Stone in Love"
(If you're actually downloading these, the links are a little different this time.)
I saw a little bit of Journey live on VH-1 Classics a while back. It was devastating. So many great songs. So many troubling thoughts. Visionary hair violations. Steve Perry has mamary glands (I hear he's Portuguese, which is cool). The sleeveless shirts (SP was fond of one with leopard-skin print). The high-rumped tight jeans. SP’s inimitable stutter-step stage run, almost tripping sideways, the male Victoria Principle look. Neil Schonn rocked the Les Paul with a whammy bar, and on this track he had a little arena-rock move where he'd play those opening chords, and in the short gap between notes he'd hold his picking hand up high in salute. Dear god it was majestic. I recommend burning a copy of this one and playing it on your stereo - no dinky futuristic earphones, or crap computer speakers.

Bad Company -"Silver Blue and Gold"
A little more of a slow burner. This one deserves your love and admiration because it contains the line "My rainbow is overdue."

Unfortunately, both of these songs suffer from what I call the "Fleetwood Mac 'Chains' Disease." It's an ailment of excess musical vampage at the end of a tune. A kind of windbaggery usually instigated by a frustrated member of the rhythm section; it's also known as "the bass player's big moment." When it stops feeling good, you can stop paying attention.

2 comments:

Barnadine said...

Bleak. How absolutely bleak that end section makes me feel. I wish they had ended it at 2:28.

The unfortunately-foregrounded, possibly slightly-out-of-tune bass chunks and the sheer Schon-wankery are bad enough, but they work within their context. I can feel it.

But my god, that wailing, meaninglessly aching coda that stretches through the video-game wasteland ether of my youth. I could see it, even then, when I was 13.

It's just too much to revisit. Too much.

Please, please stop it.

Dewey Dell said...

Oh, now we're getting somewhere. Thanks Mr. Poncho.