Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Underrated Later Poco

What to the heck to the oh to the hell to the no, Torn Slatterns and Nugget Ranchers

Minnesota Viking Brett Favre beat his old team the Packers in Green Bay 38-26. During Favre’s introduction he was loudly booed by his old fans. That was disappointing to me. It would have been more appropriate if they cheered, then booed, then cheered, then booed. Then cheered.

Vanda, a drug that stops schizophrenia, is coming out in 2010; oh, that is great news. No it isn’t, that’s horrible news. No, it’s good news. No it is not. Yes it is. No it’s not.

A judge has granted magician David Copperfield a six month delay in the sexual harassment suit filed against him by Miss Washington. Oh my word, this is shocking. A Las Vegas magician who isn’t gay? How is that possible?

Elton John had to cancel concerts after falling ill with e-coli infection and flu symptoms; no word yet on exactly when the bitch, oh the bitch, oh the bitch is back.

Elton John had to cancel concerts after falling ill with e-coli infection; I am going to lie down and fight the urge to make an e-coli joke about the creator of the song; “Brown Dirt Cowboy.”

Vanda, a new drug that stops schizophrenia, is coming out in 2010; this is great news for everybody except the five to seven different people living in Lindsay Lohan’s head.

Ashlee Simpson is being written out of “Melrose Place” because insiders say her acting is so horrible; the problem stems from the fact that it is not possible to lip-synch acting.

Ashlee Simpson is being written out of “Melrose Place” because insiders say her acting is so horrible; Ashlee is going to go back and focus on her pretending-to-sing career.

Since you asked:

It has been said by many, including me, that the BTO line; “Get a second-hand guitar, chances are you’ll go far” wasn’t far off when describing the Los Angeles music scene in the early Seventies. And that may have been true when it came to making a living playing music. But it certainly wasn’t a guarantee for wealth and fame.

There were an incredible list of amazingly talented bands – as talented as the Eagles or Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, or America or the Byrds or the Doobie Brothers, or Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne and James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt and Jimmy Buffett. And these famous bands and singers would be the first to admit there were many who were as or more talented who didn’t make it. Well, maybe Glenn Frey wouldn’t admit it.

The Flying Burrito Brothers had should-have-been-legends Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons. Buffalo Springfield had almost everyone, Neil Young, Steven Stills Jim Messina and Richard Furay who left and joined Poco who initially had both high singing bass players for the Eagles, Randy Meisner and Timothy B. Schmidt. Poco and Buffalo Springfield and the Flying Burrito Brothers will always be on the all time underrated bands. How underrated? They are as underrated as Kiss and Van Halen are overrated.

Now that is underrated.

Nobody heard of The Section which had legendary studio musicians such as Russ Kunkel, Lee Sklar, Danny Kortchmar and Craig Doerge. Crazy Horse only made it as Neil Young’s band and it featured Danny Whitten, Jack Nitzshe (Eagles songwriter), Billy Talbot and Ralph Molina. Souther Hillman Furay were three legends in the Laurel Canyon music scene, J.D., Chris and Richard, and they went nowhere. Little Feet, an amazingly talented L.A. band, is known for one song and that was a guest appearance by Dr. John. “Dixie Chicken.”

Canada’s L.A. transplant, Guess Who were big, but still horribly underrated.

The thing that was so tricky about this time was the type of music you like and listened to defined who you were in society. And there was little crossing over. Pot smoking hippies only liked folk music written by social poets, like Joni and Bob Dylan. They hated everything about hard rock and electric guitars played by the hard core acid-dropping and coke-snorting hippies.

And both of those camps viewed country music as red neck racist music. So these bands really walked a tight rope of offending one side or the other when they labeled and or named themselves. (Britain didn't seem to make those distinctions and the Beatles and the Who and the Stones were somehow exempt and accepted for doing folk and blues and rock)

In 1969 it seemed bands were either mellow folk music, or they were amped out on hard drugs and cranking their amps, like Jimi, Cream and The Who. The key group to find a middle ground was Crosby, Stills and Nash. And also Credence Clearwater Revival.

For some, James Taylor was too mellow. For others, Poco was too country. Guess Who were too hard rock. Glyn Johns, who produced Led Zeppelin, also had this bias and he forced the Eagles to play banjo- infused country music until they fired him for Bill "Can I please by a vowel" Szymczyk who produced "On the Border and "One of These Nights" and the rest of their albums. It was Johns contention the world didn't need more half-assed Led Zeppelin and America had a unique sound in country combined with folk.

One continuous theme during this time repeated by the witnesses was cocaine's impact. It came in like a fun Malibu wave to surf and ended up being a tsunami that wrecked entire bands and destroyed countless lives. Managing egomaniacs gacked up to the gills on coke was an art itself. On "Long Time Gone" you can hear how jacked up and plugged up Stephen Stills nose is.

During a Los Angeles live radio interview right before the release of "Hotel California" , Henley and Frey and the DJ were so cranked they all talked at the same time. At the time, I was a freshman in college and had never seen anyone doing cocaine, but I knew what was happening.

It for those who did make it, it seems it was typical to start a band with a bunch of good-looking, affable, broke-ass, but talented musicians singers and songwriters and, after adding a ton of money, pushy record producers, sports cars, Lear jets, custom jewelry, Malibu and Laurel Canyon mansions, hot young groupies and a boatload of cocaine and booze, and you ended up with some of most difficult, snotty, testy, egomaniac a-holes on the planet.

And, let’s face it, there were some downright crappy American bands who made it huge, coke notwithstanding. Two of the crappiest bands to make it big were the same band, Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship. (Don’t force me to quote lyrics from “Miracles.”) Pablo Cruise? They sucked. Firefall? Not so good. Bread? Ambrosa? And Europe had some suckie bands also. Abba? Bee Gees? Suck, suck, suck, suck and I am just in the A’s and B’s.

There is no decent explanation why I should have ever have been standing butts to crotch in the 100 degree infield of Comisky Park listening to Pablo Cruise sing something besides their one hit: "Love Will Find a Way." But I did and I will never get that time back.

And yet the list of Seventies bands and singers who had hits and did well but still sucked is endless:

Captain and Tenille

The Carpenters (But I did like some of their stuff)

Terry Jacks (“Seasons in the Sun” for the love of god?)

Kansas and Boston both sucked and should have been sued by their respective state and city.

John Denver? Good back then, sucks now.

Paper Lace and "The Night Chicago Died" were all the proof anyone needed to know that the music business from the top to the DJ's who played that crap were addle-headed on cocaine.

Helen Reddy, Al Stewart, Maria Muldaur. (sp?)

Wings had a Beatle in it and they still sucked.

Leo fricking Sayer? He was literally a midget clown.

Golden Earring and I like “Radar Love.”

Barry Manilow sucked, sucked, and literally, as it turns out, sucked.

Peter Frampton was good to OK, but why did he get so wildly huge? Way overrated.

Heart was just mediocre to good at best, so why did take over the radio in the mid-seventies?

Marshall Tucker was pretty good but they went global.

America – which went nuts in that era – came to our local North Chicago outside concert venue, Ravinia, and, as popular as their hits were, they couldn’t have sucked more in concert. Part of the problem was that their lead singer was so drunk he couldn’t sit on a stool.