Rolling Stone finally gets it right; Music Critics Still Assume It’s Wrong

24 11 2011

Rolling Stone magazine, in my estimation, is a joke.  It does, however, sometimes get its (meaningless) top _____ lists right.  2003’s list of greatest guitarist had arguably the best hard rock guitarist of my generation, Eddie Van Halen, way down at 70.  Now he’s in their top 10.  Why the change?  Critics say that RS simply wants to be in good with EVH as a new Van Halen album approaches.  Apparently, critics think Clapton’s rated too highly.  I’m not a big EC fan, but his influence justifies his placement on the most recent list.


The Beatles’ 100 Best Songs, according to me (41-50)

17 10 2010

Continued from prior posts


41.  Hello Goodbye — Lyrically, it’s terrifically simplistic.  Musically, there’s a lot going on, many layers to the song.  There are a bunch of instruments you can’t even hear on the new remasters.  HG is a fun song, well sung by Paul.

42.  Help! — John later admitted it was his “cry for help,” but at first blush it’s a very cool power pop song.  Help is iconic, one of those songs that epitomizes the mid-60’s and the British Invasion.

43.  Drive My Car — Another one of Paul’s attempts at capturing the Motown sound became a great bit of early white funk.  The opening guitar riff is delicious.  Follow the bass through the song; it has that flow.

44.  Things We Said Today — Following this song is a tiny bit like trying to imagine what would happen if you traveled back in time and did something that prevented your existence.  How could you go back in time and do that if you had never been born?  The lyrics themselves are hardly artsy, but the changes in tense is what makes the song interesting.  Paul starts singing about something his lover just said about the future, but he refers to it as an exchange that took place in the near past.  “Someday when we’re dreaming, deep in love, not a lot to say, then we will remember things we said today.”  In the future things will be different and they’ll look back to the past to see that.  Pay attention to how it jumps around and you’ll see its subtle cleverness.

45.  Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except for Me and My Monkey — It’s a dirty little guitar driven rock track, some of the best hard guitar work the Beatles ever did.  I really don’t remember where the title came from, but there’s never been another rock song that pull off something that lyrically clumsy so…awesomely!  “Come on it’s such a joy” is apparently something the Maharishi was fond of saying.  His influence all over the White Album despite the way the Beatles’ love affair with him ended.

46.  Sexy Sadie — Speaking of the Maharishi, Sexy Sadie’s all about him and his alleged transgressions in India which was cause for John, George and Magic Alex to leave the Ishram.  From what I know about the story, Maharishi allegedly made a pass at a woman camper, which apparently John felt was a breach of etiquette.  (Maybe there was a feeling that the campers were supposed to be living a clean lifestyle and that the master should, therefore, lead by example.)  McCartney later said that leaving under that pretext seemed a little “prudish” on John’s part.  When Lennon went back to England he proceeded to dump his wife in favor of Yoko.  Apparently yogis cannot hit on women but pop stars can dump their ways.  Whatever really happened, it resulted in a great song.

47.  I Will — Probably because it was on the Beatles Love Songs double album that I had as a kid that I have always liked this one.  Paul sings it beautifully.  It’s one of those dozen songs that helped cement McCartney’s reputation as a sentimentalist and a balladeer.  What works best about the song is, intentionally or unintentionally, it’s got a Buddy Holly thing going.

48.  Can’t Buy Me Love — I’ve never been able to tell if “me” means “for me” or “my.”  Money can’t buy love for me or it can’t buy my love.  You know how the Brits sometimes say “me” in place of me.  I’ll never know I suppose.  It’s one of the best pop songs ever.

49.  I Saw Her Standing There is proof that John and Paul had an innate ability to write songs that they just happened to be blessed enough to be able to hone to a sharp point.  It was probably written in the late 50’s and stands up against pretty much any of the early American rock n’ roll hits.  It would fit nicely in the Chuck Berry catalog.

50.  Do You Want to Know A Secret — I believe there are a bunch of Beatles songs that are better in both measureable and immeasureable ways, but this works as a kind of doo-wop rock piece that is especially catchy.  It’s dated but almost sounds better after all these years.  You gotta love George’s nasally Scouse accent pouring through the speakers.

The Beatles’ 100 Best Songs, according to me (21-30)

9 09 2010

Continued from prior posts…


21.  Yesterday I feel almost duty-bound to include this one on my list earlier rather than later.  There’s no doubt it’s an incredible composition both musically and lyrically.  It is said to be the most covered song in pop music history.  Sadly, though, it no longer speaks to me on the emotional level it once did.  Perhaps that’s because it’s a sentimental favorite, a staple of oldies radio.  Who knows?  Whatever I might (or might not) feel about it, Yesterday must be acknowledged as a monumental pop music achievement.

22.  Come Together I love the swampy bass and the nonsense lyrics.  It’s one of John’s best later numbers.

23.  I Should Have Known Better I know this song from its American release on the Hey Jude” compilation album, but it’s from A Hard Day’s Night.   The vocals, I think, capture a certain feeling.  I like the change between major and minor chords.

24.  I Wanna Be Your Man At the risk of overstating its significance, I have put I Wanna Be Your Man this high on my list because I see it as essentially proto-punk.  This is the kind of song that spawned the music of the Ramones and, thus, much of the rest of the Punk and New Wave movements.  It’s simple and its quality is in its simplicity and raw energy.

25.  Nowhere Man Near perfect guitar pop.  The Beatles hit a home run when they decided to crank the treble up to 11.  It’s one of the rare instances in which all that jangly crunch is pleasing to the ears.  I also suspect, like McCartney does, that Lennon was being at least semi-autobiographical.  It comes at the tail end of what he described as his own “Fat Elvis” period.  The lyrics are quite meaningful, layered.

26.  Happiness Is A Warm Gun Talk all you want about this being a drug song.  It really is more complicated than that.  It’s probably about Yoko more than anything.  You get 3 songlets in one, sort of a micro rock opera.  The fuzzy guitar’s velvety smooth.  It’s acid-drenched do-wop.

27.  Michelle Some unexplained force or feeling compels me to list this song at this point.  It’s easily dismissable as sentimental drivel.  If you don’t believe me, just read the lyrics by themselves.  But when you understand that Paul was going for a Nina Simone feel with “I love you, I love you, I love you,” and you listen to the bass and lead guitar, you hear it as a jazzy ballad.  The French, while at first blush cutesy, is actually a pleasantly clever trick, a change-up American pop love songs.  Once again, it shows the Beatles taking a pinch of work done before them and making it into their own one-of-a-kind sound.

28.  Hey Bulldog Lennon dismissed it as a song that “means nothing,” in his typical cynical fashion. Who cares what the song means, it rocks!  There are a lot of chord changes and progressions.  The guitar’s great and the bass is just plain frickin’ sick!  This song is a great example of why McCartney is revered as a rock bass pioneer.  It was a good preview of the crunchy rock to follow on the so-called White Album.

29.  Got to Get You into My Life The horn section intro sets the table for scrumptious plastic soul.  It’s McCartney doing white-boy Motown…and kicking ass in the process.  It really doesn’t sound like Motown to me.  It sounds like the bloody Beatles !  To think that Paul was barely 24 when he wrote put together this gem.

30.  She Came in Through the Bathroom Window This one’s said to be inspired by a real groupie that got into Paul’s place through a bathroom window.  It’s more abstract than that and has the day of the week word play reminiscent of “Lady Madonna.”  Once again, the rhythm section carries the song.  Paul and Ringo are at their best on this track.  Joe Cocker can stick this one up his goofy, spasmatic, gyrating arse.  The Beatles’ version is the best.

If there was any doubt left about Rolling Stone magazine being garbage…

29 06 2009

this erased all doubt!


You’d never see Brit music magazines put these semi-talented, overhyped kids on their covers.  Never!

Brit music rags are the best

13 01 2009

I remember when Rolling Stone magazine was the source for music and entertainment news. It used to be the magazine with the best interviews with the biggest stars. I’m not going to put out a laundry list of gripes about it, but simply stated, Rolling Stone magazine sucks. It’s a biased political piece of pulp that covers the least interesting (but biggest selling) artists of the day. It’s People magazine for music and movie fans. I can’t think of any American mags that are much better. Entertainment is good for movies, but it’s a lousy music mag.

If you want the best cover-to-cover coverage of today’s cutting edge (largely British) artists, as well as detailed looks-back at the best music of the past, you need to get subscriptions to Mojo and Q. There simply aren’t magazines that do what they do.

I wouldn’t have a clue about any of the bands that have come out the last 3 or 4 years if I didn’t get those magazines. I love them particularly because they frequently cover Oasis. Their interviews of the Gallagher brothers are fantastic. Oasis has drawn me in, but reviews of releases, new and old, have vastly expanded my musical knowledge and tastes.

One of annoying traits common to American mags is the continuous stream of ads. Most magazines here, including Rolling Stone, are 65% ads, 35% content (my rough estimate.) Q and Mojo have plenty ads, but they are largely for shows or new releases. You’ll not see ads for tampons or zit cream in those magazines. But if you live in Britain, you’ll know where to find the Fratellis playing on their current tour.

I’ve linked Mojo’s and Q’s websites to my blogroll. Their online content is wonderful and mostly free (at least everything I’ve looked at is free.)

If you love music, check out Q and Mojo. They are sold at Barnes and Noble and Borders and similar book stores. They are a bit pricey but you can probably save a few bucks an issue with a subscription.