Thursday, March 02, 2006

AEROSMITH

Is the most overrated band of all time. I provide as evidence their last three albums.

Rod Stewart is grossly underrated. I provide as evidence "Maggie May."

REM is almost perfectly accurately regarded, and are neither underrated or overrated. I provide as evidence "You are the Everything," from their completely reasonably well-received album, "Green."

23 comments:

Trevor Jackson said...

Agreed. With Aerosmith you can pretty much provide everything as evidence, except "Dream On," which was adapted for a very funny HBO comedy.

Rod Stewart = "Handbags and Gladrags." Say no more.

R.E.M.? Their later catalog, post-"Green," is pretty spotty. Half of "Automatic" is terrific, half is awful. "Monster"? Gimme a breaksville. "Hi-Fi" had a couple tracks, but too little too late.

Mathis said...

I never said that REM is/was the greatest band in the world. I've merely observed that people tend to consider them a pretty decent band, with some pretty solid songs.

I'd say that's about right.

I think another band that would fit in this category is Wilco. I'd say that they're considered to be a pretty darn good band, but few claim that they are the best band in the world.

Mathis said...

Now I'm wondering if the Wilco/REM analogy confuses or pulls more into focus a previous claim of mine that Jeff Tweedy is Bruce Springsteen's heir apparent.

King Koopa said...

I like this post...

Aerosmith: Agreed. Their popularity extends WAY beyond their niche as the world's best cock-rock band. These days longevity, persistence, and endurance equates to false notions of overall greatness.

Rod Stewart: Disagree. My genuine affection for "Maggie May" and "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" will not sway my belief that he has been an unlistenable hack for decades. He’s gotten what he deserves and should be happy with what his entertaining talents have got him.

REM: Agreed. I used to be a huge REM fan…until Stipe let go of the rudder around the time of Monster, damn that album blew. I recently used a rare REM poster (5’ x 3’) from their early days to line the trunk of my car so I could transport wood in it for my fireplace. I'm happy to have to wood. They were a good pop group with artistic leanings and never achieved greatness in either category.

Tweedy has Springsteen’s songwriting brilliance but will never achieve the popular acceptance or cultural relevance.

Tweedy = David Byrne?

Mathis said...

Tweedy is like Springsteen because they both follow in the footsteps of Woody Guthrie, albeit in different ways. Both perform both solo and with a band, though one is primarily associated as a solo artist, the other, with his band. I think that the Boss is more interested in being popular than Tweedy. If Wilco kept releasing albums like Summerteeth and Being There, I bet they'd be more well-known, but they've chosen to get a little weird. Springsteen never really got that intense with the music, he just wrote great songs (and keeps writing them).

I think it's much harder to judge a band like U2. There are so many things to factor: the amazing early years, the overwhelming popularity of the last 15 years, their political activism and, most unfortunate of all, Zooropa.

King Koopa said...

Agreed. Although, I think the Boss had popularity thrust on him by being compared with Bob Dylan in a time when Dylan was no longer performing and was hiding from the public eye. From that point, he's just been doing his thing. (Dude still hasn't "sold out" in the traditional sense.) Tweedy never really got that break, the eye of the public still hasn't fixed upon him for whatever reason. I also agree that Wilco would be on a lot more movie soundtracks, commercials, and TV shows if the songs still sounded more like Summerteeth and Being There.

Springsteen has written some great money-makin' anthems, Tweedy...not so much. (My apologies to "I'm the Man Who Loves You".)

King Koopa said...

Why do I feel there is going to be a John Cougar reference coming from you in near future? Let's keep that schlub out of this conversation. You're incorrigible when it comes to that musical panderer. Now THAT guy is a poor man's Springsteen if there ever was one.

I'm always amused by your unfailing love for John Cougar, the Uber-Hoosier. I'm not a big fan of either Springsteen or Mellencamp, but I can respect the Boss. Mellencamp doesn't even have a cool nickname. ("Cougar" doesn't count because it was most likely self-applied.)

I hope I didn't just provoke a Mellencamp rant...wait, yes I do.

Jimmy Saffron said...

The more you guys elaborate on this Tweedy/Springsteen comparison, the more I am confused. It seems to me Tweedy has not written anything as personal or as popular as Springsteen, and likely never will. Then you acknowledge that their music doesn't even sound the same. How can he be The Boss' heir apparent?

Mathis said...

Ask and ye shall receive.

The Cougar brings up another interesting facet of rock music in the modern era, which is the concept of a band or an artist's individual Stairway. For example, JCM's Stairway would, quite obviously, be I Need a Lover (That Won't Drive Me Crazy). Going back to Springsteen, what is his Stairway? I would throw out Badlands, but that's just an offhand suggestion. I could be persuaded otherwise. Wilco's Stairway, I would argue, is I am Trying to Break Your Heart.

Finally, I would say that Led Zepellin's Stairway is most likely Black Dog.

Mathis said...

Tweedy's never written anything as personal as Springsteen? Pshaw.

Jimmy Saffron said...

You need to further explain your criteria for what constitutes a band's "Stairway." What does that mean? To me, a band's "Stairway," is their longest, most ambitious, and perhaps most indulgent number. It is not necessarily a compliment. Your examples suggest something else.

Jimmy Saffron said...

Also, you might back up your "Pshaw," with, I don't know, an example.

Coward.

Mathis said...

I'd say that's about right. Though it's important to note that length and ambition, though often inseparable, are not always. I see a band's Stairway as a gentle mix of the following: length, ambition, emotional impact, recognizability, and pathos.

I stand behind my picks, but not confidently.

Trevor Jackson said...

Wilco's Stairway is "Ashes of American Flags."

Carry on.

Mathis said...

That's a good one, Trevor. And I'd like to amend my pick for Springsteen's Stairway. When I said Badlands I was thinking Backstreets. Quite possibly the unquestionable pick for the Boss.

Danny Fisher said...

I like Wilco as much as the next hipster doofus, but--and I never thought I'd say this--I'm with Saffron. The Springsteen/Tweedy comparison is dubious at best.

Tweedy should be flattered, though, that you think so highly of him as to compare him with God Almighty.

Mathis said...

You're out of your element, Danny.

King Koopa said...

Agreed. "Ashes of American Flags" is most definitely their Stairway. Proof: the live version from "Kicking Television".

The more we talk about the Tweedy/Springsteen thing, the more I'm feeling Jeff Tweedy's cosmic kinship with David Byrne. Besides the obvious stylistic/genre differences, they fill the same role in the world of music. Regarded among serious music fans as brilliant visionaries with so many ideas and inspirations that they can't possibly simplify/distill them enough to appeal to a wider audience, both have catalogs that will live forever in the record collections of the devoted (read: music geeks). Both lead bands that serve as vehicles for their own ideas, with little room for other bandmembers' contributions. Tweedy and Byrne have expanded upon and updated the American genres of country and soul/r&b, respectively, using the forms as jumping-off points for experimentation. While both artists still reside in the outer regions of popular music, it's experimental yet accessible. Neither writes personal material, their music always keeps an emotional distance. Most importantly, both have a history of being considered assholes.

Here's my favorite thought of the morning: Tom Tom Club is to David Byrne as Son Volt is to Jeff Tweedy.

I'm a Genius of Love and outlandish comparisons.

Mathis said...

You're starting to convince me. I like your theories. Where do I sign up for your newsletter?

T.S. Farmhand said...

Tweedy's "Badlands" is "Being There." This is Springsteen gone slacker. Both albums are the experiment made early/mid-career that broke them into new ground, highly personal albums, stripped of the pop tendencies of their earlier efforts. Because Springsteen's album is better, one is tempted to say he's the better songwriter and performer. Because Tweedy's album is baggier, more personal, angrier, and undisciplined, he shows us he is like us, and is the artist of his day (today). I don't imagine you'd see the Boss putting out anything today with as unpolished & narcissistic but heartbreakingly powerful of "Misunderstood."

The comparison of Tweedy to Byrne is really interesting, but I think it's mostly intellectual. They are coming out of completely different modes and traditions. Byrne was an art-rocker from a fancy East Coast art school (RISD). Tweedy is a Midwesterner through and through, a lot rougher around the edges, less interested in the visual/performance aspect of his work, and absolutely rooted in country. To the extent that Tweedy's gone artsy, it seems to me only a riff on country/folk rock.

I've thought more about this Tweedy/Boss/Guthrie thing, too. It's odd. The Boss and the Guthrie are both kind of brilliant posers. Badlands draws on Guthrie's ballads; Guthrie's ballads (allegedly) drew on the movie "Grapes of Wrath." This is very American, of course (reminds me of Cash and his prison songs). But when Tweedy goes to Guthrie it seems less serious than his own work, less inspired. Tweedy's best stuff comes from a very personal space, not from a desire to tell stories. He is explaining himself, not explaining America.

T.S. Farmhand said...

typing too fast, should read:

I don't imagine you'd see the Boss putting out anything today as unpolished & narcissistic--but as heartbreakingly powerful--as "Misunderstood."

Mathis said...

Well put, Farmhand. I like the idea of Tweedy as a scruffier Boss, Nirvana and Poison sides of the same Guthrie coin.

Ian said...

"Glen Cambell is the thinking man's Arlo Guthrie" is to "Rick Springfield is the non-personal Aerosmith" as "Shakira is the non-thinking-man's Cheryl Tweedy" is to "Tom Petty is the personal non-thinking front-man's David Byrne's Bob Dylan."

You can all hate me for saying it, but you know in your hearts it's the truth.