Hey! Yeah, you! Get over here.
Remember a bit ago I posted about bands that I wished I had seen but hadn’t had the good fortune to do so? I did volume 1 of that post a while ago, and it was, well let’s face it: it was brilliant. Now, after months of you sitting on the edge of your seat for the next installment (I admit, that must have been uncomfortable and I apologize) I’m finally back with volume 2. And it’s killer.
As a reminder, here are the rules for this post: (a) Any band/artist is allowed, including ones that are dead or who have said they will never tour again. BRP is nothing if not Lazarus-like in this regard. (b) I’m sticking to the rock genre. If you want to say “what about Mozart? What about Sinatra?” you can do so, but I’m not listing them because they aren’t rockers. (c) If they are obvious and are not listed, I probably saw them. You can still comment on my selections and my dumb ass picks, but recognize that I’m old and have been to hundreds of shows, so just by living a lengthy life, I’ve seen a lot of bands. Choose your comments, wisely, young grasshopper. (d) I’ll give a reason why I want/don’t want to see each artist, and you can bitch all you want about my reason. But back it up, baby, because I’ll go right back at ya! (e) I’m a bad boy, a sometime rule follower, and rules are made to be broken, so I might violate my own rules and do whatever I want. So maybe I’ll put Robert Johnson or Earl Scruggs in there anyway just because I want to. You’ll just have to come back and see if I did so. (f) I’ll only do ten artists at a time.
Ready? Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. No, strike that. This post is going to be GREAT! Put in the mouthguard, snap the chinstrap to the helmet, and pretend that you’re coming out of the dark tunnel onto the field of a packed Rose Bowl, ok? That’s much better. Here goes:
Elvis Presley. I was just going to say “Elvis,” but quickly remembered that another Elvis has had a four decade career at this point (and I’ve seen Costello a bunch of times). I never got to see the King. I would have gone to any show: black-leather-hip-swaying-early-days to white-jump-suit-belly-busting-end-of-the-road-days. I hate to use the word “icon” too much because most people simply don’t qualify, but Elvis is an ICON. The list of hits is longer than the time it took to get an internet connection using dial-up. And his hits were hugely influential. But Elvis also had style and performance chops down pat. Col. Tom Parker may have been an exploitative Beelzebub, but he always made sure that Elvis had top-flight backup musicians. Yeah, it would have been great to see the King.
XTC. Sure, it’s a big leap from seeing Elvis, perhaps the most famous figure in rock history, to XTC, an, ahem, more obscure new wave band out of England. But it’s my list, and I really like XTC. And I never got to see them play live. Andy Partridge had his valium thrown down a toilet by some woman in LA, lost his shit for a long time, and subsequently developed a massive and unshakeable case of stage fright. Most of their touring prior to that seminal event took place in Britain. They were just getting ready to launch a huge tour of the US to support English Settlement when the wheels came off. And thus, I never got the opportunity to see them play live. Now, the flipside of this is that they hunkered down in the studio and created music that they have admitted they would not be able to be faithfully reproduce live. And that music is my favorite XTC music. But wouldn’t it have been nice for Andy to have developed stage fright AFTER the big US tour, and then go make all that great music in the studio? Life just isn’t fair.
The Smiths. One of my college buddies with sophisticated musical tastes (that means he liked the same music as me) hated the Smiths. And that’s understandable. Despite some fantastic pop-laden guitar-driven new wave rock, there was Morrissey singing some of the most silly and depressing songs ever. And he did it in a kind of whiny voice. “Heaven knows I’m miserable now?” Seriously? But still. Johnny Marr had a way with the guitar that was just bonkers, and some of those songs were great and have stood the test of time. I’ve seen Marr live, and he plays a fair number of Smiths songs. He’s really good, but he ain’t Morrissey. I had tickets to see Morrissey, but his prissy and temperamental ass didn’t show up. The combination of Morrissey and Marr must have been mesmerizing and I missed it. Ouch! I just kicked myself. Well, that just goes to show you that you need to take advantage of opportunities that exist because moments in time will not last.
David Bowie. I’m going to admit that I was always a bit behind David Bowie. When I finally got into, say, Ziggy Stardust, he had moved on to the Thin White Duke or something. That kind of killed my enthusiasm when he toured – I wanted to see the Ziggy tour, dammit! I’m not one of those people who think that Bowie was so head-and-shoulders above his contemporaries that no matter what he put out, it was bought, put on my turntable and listened to until the grooves popped and hissed. No sir. I like Bowie, but I don’t love Bowie, sort of like my relationship with the Doors. Still, his shows must have been theatrical and musical powerhouses. I shoulda gone. I didn’t. He’s dead. No more opportunities. BRP = Idiot!
Iggy. Unlike Elvis, I don’t have to throw in the last name. If James Brown is the Godfather of Soul, Iggy is the Godfather of Punk. Most punk bands trace the lineage of that branch of the rock tree back to Detroit, Michigan. Iggy and the Stooges were punk before the term existed. And watch some video of this guy in his prime! Oh my, that was groundbreaking stuff. The music cranked, Iggy was possessed and crazy, and the crowd loved it. He now lives in Miami (smart dude, particularly if you’re from Detroit), and there is no way he could reproduce his youthful craziness even if he wanted to do so. I missed it. Thankfully, there are recordings and video, and those fire me up. But if I get fired up by that, what must those shows have been like? Whoo boy!
KC and the Sunshine Band. Heresy! Disco? Yup, he says quietly. If you know me, you know I’m a punk rocker at heart with plenty of power pop thrown in for good measure. But hey, I was also born with pretty good dance chops for a suburban white dude – pfffftt, yeah right. If there was ever music that made you want to groove and do the bump, it was KC. I dare you to get into a car, put on their greatest hits, and avoid not looking like a fool as you bop and swing to the tunes. Yes, the lyrics are silly, even stupid and vapid. So what? The songs make me want to dance and they’re super catchy. Now, one thing about KC is that they still perform live. And I’m hoping to take this off the list of bands I wished I had seen. I’m just hoping that their live performances are a huge dance-a-thon like I’ve envisioned. If so, I’ll be in hog heaven.
The Byrds. Jangly guitar with great harmonies. Songs that make you want to take flight. Even some country riffs thrown in for good measure. The Byrds are a band that most people don’t discuss when they’re talking about great bands from the 60s. That’s because most people are fools. The Byrds were HUGE and their musical output was fabulous. Bands like, oh, the Beatles, were influenced by them. And they left behind a deep catalog of great tunes that would have guaranteed a good time.
The Velvet Underground. Did you say influential? No, that was me. The VU took rock into a whole new place of experimentation. I’m not going to say that I think Lou Reed was a great lyricist – he wasn’t – but he had a great voice, created a sound that was mesmerizing, and, hey, I just finished saying that I want to see KC and the Sunshine Band whose lyrics are simply stupid. VU is one of those bands that could only come out of New York, sort of like the next band on this list, but they were listened to all over the country and helped to make rock more interesting and wide-ranging than 2 minutes, 30 seconds of “yeah, yeah, yeah.” I don’t know what they would have been like to see live, but for sure it would have been interesting.
The New York Dolls. Johnny Thunders! Sylvain Sylvain! David Johansen! If you put on the Dolls first album, it’s hard to believe that it didn’t come out last year. It still sounds contemporary, and man, is it in your face. It rocks with great songs like Personality Crisis and Trash. Plus, the Dolls went for outrageous, dressing up in drag for their performances. The crowd they attracted had to have been diverse and eclectic, and the music would have generated some outrageousness. Sigh. I missed it. I’ve seen Syl and David Jo, but you know, that’s not the same. But it’s better than nothing, right? Right.
KISS. So this is a weird one. It’s still possible to see Kiss. In fact, I think they’re touring this summer. And if given the opportunity, I would go. But I wanted to see them back in the day, when they were just getting going, playing hard rock like Rock ‘n’ Roll All Night, Detroit Rock City and Christine. All that make-up and theatrical production. To see it before anyone else really did the same thing or imitated it or borrowed from it. Yeah, that would have been a good time.
What do you think? Not bad for volume 2. But wait, don’t walk away just yet. In order to spice this one up a bit, I’m going to drop a few more bands – but these are ones that I’m glad that I never saw. Yes, despite my love of live music, there are those bands that exist and for which I would rather sit on the couch eating ice cream while watching Househunters on HGTV. Unfortunately, I have had to sit through some crappy shows before, so the list is not as long as I would like it to be. Nonetheless, here are a few bands that I’m glad that I never saw:
Pink Floyd. Bombastic music played by men with massive egos to the masses. It’s more like a rally for Big Brother in 1984 than any rock show that I want to see. Played in stadiums with stupid and trite songs and staging that required a caravan of 18 wheelers so large that it makes the Spanish Armada seem small in comparison. People in far flung places like Buenos Aires flock to see PF because, well, they were a “big time” band that had enough money to ship all that crap to Argentina to fleece that isolated populace. I never liked PF, never thought they were one of the best bands ever, and I can happily say that I’ve turned down numerous opportunities to see them.
Billy Joel. Nope, not ever gonna go to Citizens Bank Park and sing along to Big Shot. BJ is an overrated, goofy looking hack from New York, but he missed being influenced by bands like the Velvet Underground, New York Dolls and the like. I’m not a fan, and it makes my stomach groan when I go to the WFC and they have a banner up there saying how many sold out shows he has played in Philly. I get it for Springsteen, a true giant in US rock history, but Joel? Get me a barf bag, Piano Man just got piped in to the Muzak channel.
The Grateful Dead. I actually kind of like some Dead albums. I like alt-country, and they have some good songs that would fall into that bucket now. But I think songs that go on for 20 or 30 or 40 minutes of jamming are BORING, I never really went in for the hippie stuff, and I don’t really like many of the people that wax nostalgic for following around the band from town to town without taking a shower for days. I’ve seen Phish, and the crowd was made up of somewhat sad loners and losers looking for a community that they could call home if they all did drugs together, and it struck me as sad and pathetic. That’s exactly how I feel about Dead Heads. Sorry, there it is, deal with it.
My plane is about to land and I need to call it quits, but I’ve got at least one more post on this subject in me. I’ll get to it and you’ll be happy I did. Or maybe you’ll think “BRP is stupid, opinionated and just plain wrong – Billy Joel is AMAZING.” Haha, good for you. My dad used to always say that a fool and his money are soon parted, and people who pay big money to see Billy Joel are real-life examples of this cliché.
With that, my good friends, I’ll leave you for now. But I’ll be back. In fact, quite soon. You’ll need to check back often to see what other outrageous things are going on here, if for no other reason than to feel superior to me in your knowledge that Billy Joel is a GOD. But guess what? GOD spelled backwards is DOG. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. Have a good day, think happy thoughts, get up off the couch and live your life, and remember that DOG is watching over you.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.