T Nation

Rock-N-Roll Rant

Ok, bear with me…I am a complete and utter obnoxious snob when it comes to music. I make no apologies for it. I think the record industry has destroyed in general, music, and more specifically, rock-n-roll. But maybe rock was destined to destroy itself. Was Neil Young correct, is it “better to burn out than fade-away?”

For me there are two eras of rock-n-roll. Everything after the Beatles up until Nirvana, and then everything after Nirvana. Both these bands defined how rock would be sold to the public. The Beatles for defining main-stream pop and Nirvana for redefining it.

The Beatles certainly didn’t invent rock-n-roll but they invented rock-n-roll celebrity in a way that no band has matched since. Not only this they were conscious of the effects of pop-culture on the general public even in their infancy as rock stars.

What balls they showed. One minute we’re singing “Hard Day’s Night” and before we could pause for breath, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” As another example, I cannot think of a greater contrast in social awareness than the point in time from “Rubber Soul” to “Revolver”. Lest we forget, “The White Album”, which in my mind is the greatest double rock album ever released.

The point I am trying to make here is that this band used their celebrity to gain legitimacy and then launched their real agenda for rock-n-roll on the public. They also knew when to call it quits–and quite apropos, “Let it Be” would be their last joint effort as a band.

So it pains me to see the likes of the Rolling Stones out doing world tours in support of their crappy 50th release of “Emotional Rescue” when they should be home rubbing ointment on arthritic joints.

In an effort to distill the media circus, rock industry mega-gods gone jurassic I have composed a list…completely of my own opinion…of bands and artists and the albums that should have been career-enders for them so that we could look back with nostalgia and remember our rock heroes with fondness.

This list in in no particular order and is only a generalization of how I feel now:

EDIT:I should probably mention that the bands I name and the individuals therein are gods of music to me.

  1. Metallica – …And Justice For All
    Cliff Burton is gone but not forgotten and we gave Metallica the benefit of the doubt with this one because hey, “Master of Puppets” rocked. I dare any one not to bang their head on the rhythm intro into the bridge on “Sanitarium”.

  2. The Rolling Stones – Some Girls
    I think two decades is plenty for a career in rock. However, I give them this album because “Beast of Burden” is probably the best ballad they ever conceived on their own. What a sweet gig–becoming ultra mega millionaires on other people’s music done just above sub-par.

  3. Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks
    We all love the way Bobby Boy gave the finger to his folk following and we even applauded his effort with his attempt at Christianity and gospel music…but then he became incoherent and we gave up. I give him his dues on this album for “Tangled Up in Blue” and “Shelter from the Storm” everything after this is superfluous.

  4. Kiss – Destroyer
    Does anyone really care what happened to this band after the face paint came off? I give them credit for scaring the hell (literally) out of moms and the cult following precursor that would become MADD.

  5. Prince – Purple Rain
    This man got an award named after him when he changed his name to a symbol (for androgyny?), “The Get Over Yourself” award. You may remember Bill Maher handing out, on his show “Politically Incorrect”, an award in the shape of “his purple holiness’” symbol to individuals who may have become to big for their britches. I will grant that he has contributed to rock-n-roll, even if his contribution is nothing more than ass-less purple hot pants and a fluffy pirate shirt.

  6. David Bowie – Young Americans
    I think this album sums it up nicely with the track “Fame”

  7. U2 – War
    They made a great political statement and then pissed all over it with their whiny PC release of “The Unforgettable Fire”. They get an honorable mention for “Achtung, Baby” for pissing off their fair-weather pop fans.

  8. The Velvet Underground – Loaded
    I wasn’t going to list this band but Lou Reed pisses me off…his career should have ended with his band. Seriously, when you’re feeling bad pop in “The Velvet Underground & Nico” and listen to “Venus in Furs” and “Heroin”, you can’t but help feel better just for never having ridden the “H Train”.

  9. REM – Green
    Gasp…yes I listed REM as they were very influential in the underground rock scene and probably could have had a very self sustaining career had they stayed there. But they didn’t and we got subjected to “Shiny Happy People”. Their career can be summed up over 5 years when they were on IRS. The track, “Driver 8” off of “Fables of the Reconstruction” is probably their most definitive sound during this time.

  10. The Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magic
    I think we all got tired of seeing their collective “joints” stuffed into tube-socks on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Ok we get it, they are crazy, wild fun. This band defined a genre and helped bring the funk back to main stream and for that they get a mention.

Ok, there it is. I know I alienated most of my friends with this list but I am sorry, it had to be done for the very sake of rock-n-roll. Please chime in and tell me how full of shit I am and provide some of your rock-n-roll pain.

I am thinking of adding onto this a list of honorable mentions for burning out early.

2 cents:

elvis had that kind of celebrity before the beatles…the biggest contribution to rock and roll from the beatles was the fact they they wrote their own music. everyone who saw them wanted to play guitars and write their own songs.

the world of songwriting, which was controlled by a couple of companies, was suddenly blown apart and anybody with a guitar and an idea had a chance to be heard and, because of the beatles, the public wanted to hear it.

i’m with you on the stones; today’s stones are a joke. but i dunno about cutting them off @ some girls. i think tattoo you is a pretty sweet record.

A few things:
First, the Black album is a work of art from metallica. My personal favorite album is Justice, but I like scattered bits of the stuff after it. St. Anger was a mistake, but at least they had the balls to try it.

Second, the beatles hardly invented the rock n’ roll star in any way shape or form. The virtuoso composer/performer has it’s origins in the mid 19th century with composer/virtuoso performers such as Liszt and Paganini. They were the first real “rock stars” in the sense that they created images surrounding themselves–they created a persona just like the rock stars of today do. The beatles took it just a step further.

And that step further relates to my final point: rock n’ roll as a social outgrowth. Rock is about what the beatles made it to be about: fitting in, then, by understanding the system, working within it to cause change. The beatles, however, don’t speak to every generation. It’s outstanding, complex music, but the younger generation of today is more interested in Green Day. No big deal.

That said, today version of rock holds the same ideals that the older rock music had. It’s a social commentary, but it’s lyrics now reflect a different environment. The politically active bands of today are still influential, but rock function more as a social commentary on other things. Thing of the generation of rockers on the mainstage today.

Most were in their late teens or 20’s during the 90’s. This was the first generation of US youth to not necessarily expect better than their parents. That is, they weren’t garunteed to be better off in the work world or anything else. It happens, and it’s not really a bad thing. A lot of rock’s lyrics today reflects that situation. Teens can identify with it for obvious reasons.

So, while we may not consider some of the music released today “good” music, it’s all good music. Why? because it fulfills a sociological role that the public demands it to fill.

Sorry, this is kind of off on a tangent. I agree with you on a lot of the album picks, but it’s important to point out other things as well. This stuff is all very interesting to me, and I just wrote a paper on it–still fresh in my mind.

I have to admit to being a music snob as well. I really don’t like most of the bands on your list, so I can’t say I agree or disagree with your choices. Except for one. I think One Hot Minute was a lot better than Blood Sugar Sex Magic. I’m sure a lot of people would disagree, but I like the psychedellic weirdness Dave Navarro brought to the band.

Either way, I agree that new Chili Peppers pales in comparison to all their older stuff.

[quote]JBomb wrote:
I have to admit to being a music snob as well. I really don’t like most of the bands on your list, so I can’t say I agree or disagree with your choices. Except for one. I think One Hot Minute was a lot better than Blood Sugar Sex Magic. I’m sure a lot of people would disagree, but I like the psychedellic weirdness Dave Navarro brought to the band.

Either way, I agree that new Chili Peppers pales in comparison to all their older stuff.[/quote]

Yup. I thought the Peppers delivered nicely until Californication. That and everything since has bored me to tears and the sight of Flea playing with a pick made me puke a bit in my mouth and die a bit inside.

[quote]JBomb wrote:
I have to admit to being a music snob as well. I really don’t like most of the bands on your list, so I can’t say I agree or disagree with your choices. Except for one. I think One Hot Minute was a lot better than Blood Sugar Sex Magic. I’m sure a lot of people would disagree, but I like the psychedellic weirdness Dave Navarro brought to the band.

Either way, I agree that new Chili Peppers pales in comparison to all their older stuff.[/quote]

i agree one hot minute is a great record. definitely underated. i don’t get the big deal over blood sugar sex magic…

i just find it boring and predictable especially after a killer record like mother’s milk which could be in my top ten. mother’s milk is genius man.

[quote]MODOK wrote:
How about “Bands who never ‘jumped he shark’”? Two come to mind.

  1. Led Zeppelin- I cannot say that ‘In Through the Out Door’ was a swan song, even though it was the weakest Zep record.

  2. Nirvana-wasn’t around long enough to jump anything, but I believe they’d still be extremely relevant today.

What do ya’ll think?

[/quote]

Good choices. I’ll add one: Pink Floyd

[quote]MODOK wrote:
How about “Bands who never ‘jumped he shark’”? Two come to mind.

  1. Led Zeppelin- I cannot say that ‘In Through the Out Door’ was a swan song, even though it was the weakest Zep record.

  2. Nirvana-wasn’t around long enough to jump anything, but I believe they’d still be extremely relevant today.

What do ya’ll think?

[/quote]

Nirvana is still great today, but you’re right, they weren’t around long enough to jump the shark. I think you have to consider a band’s longevity in a discussion like this. Modest Mouse has never jumped the shark. They’ve been around for almost 15 years now, and they consistently keep getting better. Also Bright Eyes is another band that has been making great songs for the last 10+ years.

I know this might be sacrilegious to some people, but I think the new Tool album was a huge disappointment. Even Lateralus, which I enjoyed, wasn’t as good as the preceeding album.

[quote]JBomb wrote:
I know this might be sacrilegious to some people, but I think the new Tool album was a huge disappointment. Even Lateralus, which I enjoyed, wasn’t as good as the preceeding album.
[/quote]

Agreed. Those two lack what the previous albums have. They just don’t seem to “pop” like first ones did.

[quote]MODOK wrote:
How about “Bands who never ‘jumped he shark’”? Two come to mind.

  1. Led Zeppelin- I cannot say that ‘In Through the Out Door’ was a swan song, even though it was the weakest Zep record.

  2. Nirvana-wasn’t around long enough to jump anything, but I believe they’d still be extremely relevant today.

What do ya’ll think?

[/quote]

i agree with you on zeppelin. i can’t say i’ve ever felt anything good for nirvana though. that band was just in the right place @ the right time. being a meat puppets fan i am biased of course and if you ask me i’ll say all nirvana ever did was rip the meats and dress it up for mainstream. you shouldn’t even mention nirvana in the same month as a band like zeppelin really…

[quote]JBomb wrote:
Modest Mouse has never jumped the shark. They’ve been around for almost 15 years now, and they consistently keep getting better. Also Bright Eyes is another band that has been making great songs for the last 10+ years.

[/quote]
There lies the beauty of not being recognized by a major label and “selling out” to the industry. The contracts they sign force them into a creative trap and low and behold commercial crap is born.

There is a great music station that I get to listen to here in the cities so comercial music isn’t even an option for me:

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/tools/play/streams/the_current.pls


I think you deserve one of these…j/k, man. That’s a decent list.

If you don’t like Stadium Arcadium, then perhaps you don’t like the Chili Peppers as much as you thought.

Disagree with you re: Prince - Sign o’ the Times is pure brilliance; after that…pretty much…bleh.


For non-jumping the shark purposes:
New Order - while Waiting for the Siren’s Call and Get Ready will never be Lowlife, Technique or Power Corruption and Lies they are good, solid works. Even Republic is horribly underrated.

I dunno. I think all of the Bands listed deserve credit for the the good stuff they have put out. Franky if the biggest problem with the music industry is that Prince and The Peppers put our a sub-par album every now and then, we would be in good shape.

What has killed the music industry (and this applies only to pop/rock, which is a very limited category) is MTV. Seriuosly, have you seen the following that some of these pre-pube goth/emo/pansies get because they have a weird haircut?

I think it is really funny that many people (myself included) are so quick to decry the “commercialization” of music nowadays. What does commercialization really mean? It means making music that more people will buy. That means making music more people will enjoy.

Music snobs will argue argue that it means making less original, less artistic music. However that argument will lead you to the conclusion that if more people buy “commercialized” music, than most people don’t care about how original or artistic the music they listen to is.

Why is it considered so fashionable to like “underground” music?

[quote]JBomb wrote:
Why is it considered so fashionable to like “underground” music?[/quote]

Because it gives those a sense of originality to being a few who enjoy something that most aren’t familiar with. It’s like a small club to them.

[quote]JBomb wrote:
I think it is really funny that many people (myself included) are so quick to decry the “commercialization” of music nowadays. What does commercialization really mean? It means making music that more people will buy. That means making music more people will enjoy.

Music snobs will argue argue that it means making less original, less artistic music. However that argument will lead you to the conclusion that if more people buy “commercialized” music, than most people don’t care about how original or artistic the music they listen to is.

Why is it considered so fashionable to like “underground” music?[/quote]

Good Post.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with liking a simple, catchy Top 40 song, but music snobs tend to think that you’re stupid and less of a person for actually liking Nickleback or Linkin Park.

This is why most people don’t like music snobs. :slight_smile:

Those simple songs get old pretty quickly, unlike “real” artists music, but a song isn’t lame just because it’s popular.

[quote]tGunslinger wrote:
JBomb wrote:
I think it is really funny that many people (myself included) are so quick to decry the “commercialization” of music nowadays. What does commercialization really mean? It means making music that more people will buy. That means making music more people will enjoy.

Music snobs will argue argue that it means making less original, less artistic music. However that argument will lead you to the conclusion that if more people buy “commercialized” music, than most people don’t care about how original or artistic the music they listen to is.

Why is it considered so fashionable to like “underground” music?

Good Post.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with liking a simple, catchy Top 40 song, but music snobs tend to think that you’re stupid and less of a person for actually liking Nickleback or Linkin Park.

This is why most people don’t like music snobs. :slight_smile:

Those simple songs get old pretty quickly, unlike “real” artists music, but a song isn’t lame just because it’s popular.[/quote]

“Ladies and Gentlemen” by Saliva is currently one of my favorite songs in the top 40. I could really care less if the entire world liked it or didn’t. I think you have lost the meaning of music once you base how you feel about it on what others think. For the record, I can’t stand most of The Beetles songs, but no one can deny their place in history. I personally would listen to Boyz II Men’s version of Yesterday before their’s any day of the week, even though I acknowledge where the credit for the song should go.

OP;

This is so fucked up I don’t know where to begin…However it is most clear that you would not know Rock ‘n’ Roll if it sodomized your spinal remains…

Your the type of clown that’s so cool, and knows all the right shit, years after it’s not cool any more, and soccer moms are wearing Ramones t-shirts, but somehow your supposed to be with “it”.

You actually fell for Lennon’s game. Lennon himself admitted years later he was fucking with everyone ( the counter culture ) just to turn a buck.

Your right the Beatles used the record industry to promote their own agenda; Mega Bucks. Have you read Cobains’ suicide note? But all that probably doesn’t fit in with your wannabe-hipster-psychosis though.

The day you stop trying to be so cool, is the day you can begin to enjoy music again. Good luck with that.