The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

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Prof. Wagstaff
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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Wed Mar 15, 2017 11:02 pm

doppel wrote:To quote Mojo Nixon: "George Jones sings so good it'll make your dick hard."

Man, I sure do loves me some Mojo.


JANIS JOPLIN -- I have very mixed feelings about Janis; downright contradictory ones at times. I don't really know how to put my finger on her as a singer much of the time and at this far remove, I think she's as often admired for her legend as for her actual recorded performances. It's telling, for example, that one of the two essays included in the 3CD Columbia/Legacy Janis box set I own -- by feminist rock critic Ellen Willis -- has virtually nothing to say about her music, focusing exclusively on her as some sort of icon, which I think is more of a sad statement about the lack of women allowed to become successful in the late '60s music industry then anything actually having to do with how she lived, let alone how she sang. I mean, the essay attempts to draw a direct line from Janis to Madonna. That's just plain dopey, imho.
There's no doubt Janis was a depressed and troubled soul, who sought to bury her pain in music, so it's no surprise that she turned to the blues for her earliest inspiration/recordings. But while those tracks are hardly embarrassments, they aren't exactly revelatory either, unless, that is, the listener is unfamiliar with the originals from which Joplin drew her inspiration. She's certainly no Ma Rainey or Bessie Smith, but I'm also not sure that criticism is even valid; she's clearing not just emoting, after all -- I don't think there's ever a doubt that Joplin is 100% committed to being expressive -- yet something is missing here.
That problem is somewhat relieved by the time she hooked up with Big Brother And The Holding Company. Once freed from the constrictions of the very specific genre conventions of country blues, she was able to try developing her own distinct style, which ultimately presented its own set of issues given she was just as likely to devolve into caterwauling as she was to come up with interesting phrasing (which she occasionally does) or making someone else's lyrics her own (which she also sometimes does.) But all the criticisms you've probably heard elsewhere about Big Brother are true -- they were amateurish, undisciplined musicians whose shambolic playing failed to provide the kind of structure which might have kept Janis from indulging her worst tendencies (foremost of which is her apparent belief that singing sounds more soulful the more words you can pack into any given space.) Which isn't to say the group doesn't have its moments -- their lack of chops can sometimes be endearing, there are flashes of inspiration here and there, and just like Janis, they're clearly pouring their heart and soul into it. But good? I dunno if I can go that far.
On her final recordings -- those from Pearl, with The Full Tilt Boogie Band -- the problem is exactly the opposite. The band is often too slick and precise for the style of singing she was most comfortable with, which often makes her contributions sound almost intrusive (and it's telling that I hardly miss her on the sole instrumental track, the one cut she hadn't yet recorded vocals for before her death.) The standard line is that her second group -- The Kozmic Blues Band -- was the most ill-suited for her talents and that the horns in particular too often step on/detract attention from her vocals. But if I could have only one proper Janis album, I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama would absolutely be the one I'd choose, perhaps because she's often shunted to the sidelines while the horns lay it on thick. I mean, "As Good As You've Been To The World" is in a solid groove for a full two minutes before her entrance, and right before she does appear, the band quite literally comes to a halt and essentially starts over again.
Yet even with all these criticisms, I still have a soft spot for some of her recordings -- not the least of which being her biggest hit, Kris Kristofferson's "Me And Bobby McGee", where I think it's safe to say her rendition is definitive (and also when her and Full Tilt best melded.) Some of that is undoubtedly because she's been part of my music collection for so long -- I first got into her in middle school when I had not yet heard any of the original versions of many of her songs, virtually all of which I now prefer over hers. I certainly don't pull her records out much these days -- and I think saying I've outgrown her is a fair analysis -- but she definitely led me to better music I love today, which is worthy of praise in and of itself, I think.

And the reason why this is but a single-artist update is that next up is the amazing Louis Jordan, who is one of my all-time faves, and I suspect The Project may stall a bit as I listen to him over and over and over again. So if you need to find me, stop in at "The Saturday Night Fish Fry"

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby scratch » Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:13 am

Chicago talk radio icon Mike North has trolled for callers by opining that Janis Joplin and Parliament-Funkadelic (among others) do not deserve to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because they didn't have enough hit singles and that Lesley Gore and Connie Francis belong there instead. I don't recall anyone posting a similar view, but I'm wondering if Prof W and other forons agree.

I'm pretty sure Jann Wenner doesn't agree, so it's purely a theoretical question.

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Kenneth Burns » Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:43 am

Janis Joplin's reputation obviously is enormous, but I have delved into the catalog only a little, I guess mainly the singles and Big Brother's "Cheap Thrills." I think I found Big Brother's playing so off-putting that I didn't bother exploring more. They overplay. They fight Janis. When you have Janis out front, don't fight her. Lay back and let her do her thing.

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby PaleoLiberal » Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:55 am

It's the Hall of Fame. Who's more famous than Janis Joplin?

As for P-Funk, I remember when Bill Clinton was president, the P-Funk posters all over NYC were modified Bill Clinton posters. Except George instead of Bill for president. It seemed like every lamppost in the Village and Soho had one.

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Thu Mar 16, 2017 11:06 am

Expecting the Rock Hall to make sense/be reasonable/be cool (although demanding the admission of Gore and Francis is the opposite of that last one, although there's already plenty of non-rock inducted) is a fool's errand. It's a joke. While I know the Hall does give some money to a few good causes, it's essentially just a marketing/promotional tool. If there's going to be a single criteria for inclusion though, influence should be more important than sales, in which case Francis doesn't belong at all, Gore ain't much of a loss, and Joplin and P.Funk should have gotten in even earlier.

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby PaleoLiberal » Thu Mar 16, 2017 11:27 am

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:Expecting the Rock Hall to make sense/be reasonable/be cool (although demanding the admission of Gore and Francis is the opposite of that last one, although there's already plenty of non-rock inducted) is a fool's errand. It's a joke. While I know the Hall does give some money to a few good causes, it's essentially just a marketing/promotional tool. If there's going to be a single criteria for inclusion though, influence should be more important than sales, in which case Francis doesn't belong at all, Gore ain't much of a loss, and Joplin and P.Funk should have gotten in even earlier.


I remember in the early days of the Hall, Paul McCartney snubbed them by skipping out of the Beatles' induction. He thought the Hall to be a bit of a sham. He later regretted not showing up, and was there for his own induction, as well as other former Beatles. He had a prominent role in John Lennon's induction.

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Thu Mar 16, 2017 11:39 am

PaleoLiberal wrote:I remember in the early days of the Hall, Paul McCartney snubbed them by skipping out of the Beatles' induction. He thought the Hall to be a bit of a sham. He later regretted not showing up, and was there for his own induction, as well as other former Beatles. He had a prominent role in John Lennon's induction.

This is another issue I have with the Hall. Lots of deserving people have yet to be included; there's no reason to be inducting people twice. When you induct The Beatles, you've already inducted the members of the Beatles. The MC5 deserve recognition more than Wings or the guy who recorded the Gone Troppo LP. I don't think Dick Dale has made the cut yet. Isn't it obvious his influence has been greater than "It Don't Come Easy"? (And chronically-ill Dale would certainly benefit more from the publicity than multi-millionaire Starr.)

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Kenneth Burns » Thu Mar 16, 2017 11:54 am

My understanding from the unauthorized "Beatles Anthology Revisited" podcast (you didn't hear about it from me) is that Paul skipped the ceremony because of pending legal issues with George and Ringo.

P.S. "Gone Troppo," ha ha. My sweet lord, what a shitty album. Maybe forum is due for another long discussion of the Beatles' baffling solo careers.

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby PaleoLiberal » Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:51 pm

Maybe.

One thing we saw about the Beatles' solo careers is what happens when you take off the filter, and the great production.

Remember, these guy wrote TONS of songs, and not every song was recorded. Some of the stuff that wasn't recorded was quite good. Some was crap. In general, the crap was filtered out, leaving the good stuff. Not always. Some crappy songs made it onto Beatles albums, and in one case Paul gave a discarded song to his girlfriend's brother, who got a #1 hit out of it.

The former Beatles recorded some great stuff after the band broke up. Unfortunately, there are few, if any, albums I can listen to all the way through without cringing at some point. Paul's least cringeworthy was Wings Over America, which was a live best-of and had some old Beatles songs.

The other problem was production. Face it, in the late 60s and early 70s the two most accomplished producers were George Martin and Phil Spector. It seems like all the Beatles had fall outs with George Martin. Paul worked with George Martin on the song Live and Let Die, which had far better production than his earlier stuff. Until the famous gun incident, John worked with Phil Spector, and the production was often quite good.

Some of my favorite post-Beatles songs were written about the breakup. I think Wah-Wah was great. I also like How Do You Sleep, where George joins John in ripping Paul a new one. That was possibly the best song on Imagine, and had some of George's best slide guitar work ever.




EDIT TO ADD:

Sorry about the thread hijack. Please get back to the usual stuff.

Actually, as long as Wags posts new stuff, the thread can never be completely hijacked. So, Wags, if you want to see your thread back, you know what you need to do. Otherwise, I might post some completely off-topic stuff.

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby PaleoLiberal » Thu Mar 16, 2017 4:13 pm

Fish Fry reminds me a lot of some of Fats Waller's songs. Consider This Joint is Jumping mashed with Hold TIght.

Another blatant attempt to get Wags to post his Louis Jordan stuff.

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Thu Mar 16, 2017 4:21 pm

PaleoLiberal wrote:Sorry about the thread hijack.

As long as the discussion is about (something related to) music, it's impossible to hijack this thread.

Like I said, it's gonna take me a while to get through my Louis Jordan as 1) I have the 9CD Bear Family set which comprises his complete recordings from 1938-1954, and 2) he is one my all-time favorite artists and I foresee multiple listens of each disc, rather than the standard one-and-done I do for most stuff. Today I listened to Disc One three times while I worked. Highlight: "Bounce The Ball (Do Da Dittle Um Day)"

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Igor » Fri Mar 17, 2017 12:17 am

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:The MC5 deserve recognition more than Wings or the guy who recorded the Gone Troppo LP. I don't think Dick Dale has made the cut yet. Isn't it obvious his influence has been greater than "It Don't Come Easy"?


It has to be the "right" influence though. VU gets in right away because of their huge "influence" yet KISS (who like VU were lousy musicians, but arguably even more influential) had to wait.

Ringo, while an awesome guy, was a joke of an inductee. Not only should Dick Dale be in before him, so should Pat Benetar, Megadeth, or Kansas. Not saying that those artists necessarily belong, but they belong more than Ringo.

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Igor » Fri Mar 17, 2017 12:24 am

PaleoLiberal wrote: I also like How Do You Sleep, where George joins John in ripping Paul a new one.


"Jump when your momma tell you anything" is a pretty funny line considering the source.

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Sun Mar 19, 2017 5:55 am

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:As long as the discussion is about (something related to) music, it's impossible to hijack this thread.


In that spirit, I'd like to say:
RIP Chuck Berry
Also, the number of people in my FB feed who posted "My Ding-A-Ling" in tribute -- when clearly that's really an insult -- was disturbingly high. If I were to make a list of "Rock and Roll Injustices", that song being Chuck's sole #1 hit would be ranked near the top.

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby PaleoLiberal » Sun Mar 19, 2017 9:08 am

I remember when that was top of the charts. I didn't much like the song but the radio stations played it incessantly. As was common for any #1 hit.

At least he made a ton of money off it.


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