Wednesday, August 13, 2008
on being kinda awesome/kinda awful
This all started innocently enough when I just wanted some goddamn AC/DC with which to start my day, and neither Rhapsody nor my hard drive has any handy. Mötörhead was, of course, a more than satisfactory substitute, fulfilling the need, but somewhere around Thin Lizzy's "Romeo and the Lonely Girl" things took a spiral into music that I consider to be simultaneously kinda awful and kinda awesome. Thin Lizzy is groovy as hell, but I feel he's singing the same song each time.
A band that epitomizes "kinda awful and kinda awesome" is the minds of many is Rush. I stand by "Fly By Night" as being a great song by Rush, should an example be required at any point (I'll defend the mammothly over played "Tom Sawyer" as well) but really, "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" is my jam today.
And in saying that, I am acquiescing to the wave and surfing the "See Similar Albums" which deposit me at the feet of Wishbone Ash, a band I have never consciously listened to before. And I don't know what the party line on Wishbone Ash is, but its even more than kinda awesome. The progressive arrangements gear in nicely with the regressive rock, and "So Many Things to Say" feels like it was dragged through a forest fire before committing to tape - desperate, haggard and resolute. "No Easy Road" is an unholy commingling of The Who and Rolling Stones and maybe a little Allman Brothers in a makeshift lotus flower crafted from discarded trumpets found rusting away on the beach at Muscle Shoals.
Looking at the similars, Rhapsody is suggesting Pink Floyd, Kansas, Genesis, Rush, and Yes, towering over me like thugs in my high school parking lot, ready to beat me up for being a "faggot." My head says Yes - it will be the most sympathetic to your sensitive ("faggoty") nature, but my heart is steeled by the surprising resonance of Wishbone Ash, so I head for my last place choice of Kansas' eponymous debut.
The last time I saw Drive-By Truckers, during "Let There Be Rock", Patterson Hood went into a litany of great bands he'd seen as openers for Kansas: Molly Hatchet, .38 Special, etc etc adding "and I fucking hate Kansas. I must've seen Kansas twenty times. But there was always a cute girl siding up to you and a joint making the rounds during the 35 minutes of "Carry On My Wayward Son", and if I thought that was still the case, hell, I'd go see Kansas again!"
To me, Kansas is akin to the tripod aliens in War of the Worlds: when they are evaporating buildings with heat lasers and causing panic with their sheer enormity and unstoppability, I love it; but the second they step away from being monsters and you get a good look at them, they seem awkward, oversize for their purpose, and poorly designed for mobility. Next.
I have never liked Supertramp at all. A friend called me upon reading my tossing-under-the-bus of The Shins and declared, "go listen to Breakfast in America and you will see why you are all wrong." So I did, and while I feel a touch softer toward The Shins as I did then, I thought Supertramp sounded implausibly worse than I remembered.
Crime of the Century is hardly that, maybe a little Roger Waters-gone-Barry Manilow with the undeniable virtues and existential dilemmas they both embody. In the end, it's not all bad, none of it. And now I know where I stand on Wishbone Ash, so that is something. And for as much as Mötörhead rocked me into this mess, I still want to hear some AC/DC.