Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Oh, Happy Day!

The polls have long closed and the results are in (almost): Democrats took control of the House. They might control the Senate, although that looks to be the next tied-up-in-the-courts-for-months race that is now a standard practice with each big election.

And, in the sweetest news of all, earlier this morning Donald Rumsfeld resigned in disgrace.

Finally! It feels like the country is starting to revive itself from the zombie nap it's been taking for the past six years.

And what did our President, the man who leads our country, the man who is the symbol of our nation to the rest of the world, have to say earlier today at a press conference about yesterday's elections?

"It was a thumpin'."

Don't you think that maybe, maybe, he could once give a quote that didn't make him sound like a deranged hillbilly? The man's educated. He knows how to form a sentence. Please, Mr. President, just give the folksy shit a rest, at least for the rest of your term. It doesn't work.

I gotta say, that Donald Rumsfeld thing made my day. Guess he won't be staying the course anymore.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Reunited And It Feels So Blech

Speaking of bands that should remain dormant, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks have announced that they are reuniting Genesis for a stadium tour of Europe next year, with North America dates to follow.

According to Banks, they're going to do a lot from their catalog. His quote:

"Genesis has another side to it, a more complex area of music. One side gets slightly more attention than the other. We are trying to reacquaint people. Genesis is not particularly a group mentioned very much these days and we want to remind people we did do a lot of things."

They have done a lot of things, but I doubt the things they're going to remind people about will include "Supper's Ready," "Dance on a Volcano," or "Dodo/Lurker." No, Banks probably means they're going to do "Misunderstanding," "Throwing It All Away," and "No Son of Mine." Let's face it: The audiences that are going to go to a big stadium concert of Genesis want to hear their 80's and early 90's stuff. They're not there to hear "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway." They want "Land of Confusion" and they want it now!

I saw them at the Hoosier (now RCA) Dome in 1992 and wasn't very impressed. There were so many other aspects of the concert - films, lights, smoke, etc. - that the music got lost in the shuffle. The same thing happened when I saw Pink Floyd. Play the music guys. Leave the laser shit to the wasted kids at the planetarium.

However, if they perform "Whodunnit?" I will go no matter what. They could play "In Too Deep" over and over and over and over again, but if "Whodunnit?" is somewhere in the mix, I will be there.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Who Sucks

I have listened to the new Who CD Endless Wire three times now, so I feel like I can say this with 100% confidence:

It's terrible. God awful. One of the worst discs I've bought all year. Do not buy it.

Reuniting a popular band decades after their last release is always a tricky thing. Sometimes you can reap interesting - if flawed - rewards. Take Fleetwood Mac's 2003 disc Say You Will. Sure, it had its cringe-worthy moments ("There's a candle, a candle in the window...") but for the most part it was an intriguing record that managed to update the classic Fleetwood Mac sound while venturing into unchartered territory for the band. Or look at the recently reunited Pixies. They've only recorded two songs - a song cut for (and cut from) the soundtrack to Shrek 2 called "Bam Thwok" and a Warren Zevon cover, "Ain't That Pretty At All" - but both tunes are fun and compliment the band's earlier output.

Unfortunately, more often than not these reunions fail. The Eagles are the first band that comes to mind. After getting back together in 1995 and releasing a live album with four bland new songs, they've periodically toured since then with promises of a new album in every press release. But said album has never materialized, and the new songs that have are either novelty junk like "Get Over It" or sappy ballads that the 1976 Eagles would have mocked to no end.

The problem with The Who reunion is that the two most prominent members of the band - Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey - are still alive, while the lesser known members - Keith Moon and John Entwistle - are not. Usually this wouldn't be a problem, but three listens to the new record should be enough to remind you that without Moon's manic drums and Entwistle's steady and melodic bass lines, The Who would have traveled the path of, say, The Kinks instead of turning into mega-stars. (I'm not dismissing The Kinks. They're a wonderful and sadly overlooked band.) Moon and Entwistle made that band. Yeah, Townshend and Daltrey are great as well, but without that power house rhythm section behind them they would never have exploded (sometimes literally: Moon liked to blow up his drum kit on occasion) like they did.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that The Who should have hung it up in 1978 when Moon died of a drug overdose. They didn't, instead forging on and releasing two dull albums before finally calling it quits in 1982. They toured sporadically in the next 24 years but never to support a new record. (Side note: I saw them in 2002 and thought they were over-rehearsed and a bit boring. They ran through all their hits, but there was little energy to the performance.) Which brings us to Endless Wire.

The disc itself has been talked about for years but, like that mysterious Eagles record, has never materialized. That changed earlier this year, when Townshend began giving more press interviews than ever, claiming that the record was nearly finished. Again, I took an "I'll believe it when I see it" approach, because I've heard rumors of a new Who album since the latter part of the 90's. But a date was set, cover art was released, a track list was posted and, finally, last Tuesday I went to Best Buy and bought it on sale for $10.

Too bad it's terrible. Like many reviews I've read have pointed out, a lot of the songs sound incomplete, almost demo-like. There's very little drum or bass on the album, probably because no one wanted to be compared to Moonie or The Ox. Instead, it's mainly Townshend singing against keyboards and acoustic guitars, an odd move, since he was never the lead singer of The Who. I'm not demanding that they simply carbon copy the original sound of The Who and release that as a record. That would have been just as painful, if not more so, than what they did release. I just think that they could have done more with what they had.

But, to be honest, there's probably little they could have done to make them work anyway. "The Mike Post Theme" is a strange song about TV theme songs. "In the Ether" is a silly song made unbearable by Townshend's decision to sing it like Louis Armstrong. And the song cycle that makes up the second half of the album makes little sense and feels like a weak attempt to remind everyone that they used to do this kind of thing successfully back in the 60's. (But, to be fair, there's no way anyone can beat "A Quick One While He's Away.") It's just a sad listening experience, one that can't help but taint my overall opinion of The Who.

I'll probably give it a few more listens before I file it away in the stacks, never to be played again. And then, eventually, I'll sell it. They can't all be winners.