This is a chronological list for me. No explanation is needed, because I’ve said it already. It has to go to 11.
My parents were both born in 1939, and were squares. They missed Elvis & the Beatles, settling for easy listening & classical. That’s what I grew up with in Wisconsin. There were two kindergarten classes in Winneconne when I went, and both had nice teachers, Mrs. Broderick & Mrs. Kontos. I had Mrs. Kontos, who played piano, and got us singing as a group to “Old McDonald”, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and other children’s standards.
Looking back now, I can see that it was her job to stimulate as many senses as she could in all of us. By doing this, Mrs.Kontos & Mrs. Broderick could recognize who had ability, and who needed help. Thus, no one got left behind. By 1st grade, the kids had been sorted by ability, and a few were already recognized for their prodigy talents. I had a Winneconne classmate who was a math & science genius, and everyone knew it. We rode the bus together.
We were were introduced to music class in first grade, and it was mandatory through fifth grade. The teacher was Mrs. Alberta Doverspike, a hard but passionate Irishwoman, who loved kids & teaching music. She also played second-row violin in the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra, which was nationally recognized at the time.
Mrs. Doverspike mostly played the piano in class, while teaching from the songbook we all had in our laps, and always stayed in the classroom. She was the Winneconne elementary, grade 1-5, music teacher for decades, and beloved by many. We viewed these crazy film-strips on the treble & bass clefs, with notes calling out in the night to a kid asleep, and then the journey to follow these sounds & discover the musical scales. We all laughed & learned.
It was the same songbook year after year, with old-school classics such as: Stephen Foster’s “Oh Susanna”, and “Land of the Silver Birch”, a traditional 1920’s Canadian folk song. “Hi diddle unakum feedle” is an Irish ballad I repeatedly requested, to the irritation of other classmates– also known as “The Tailor and the Mouse.” On Fridays, we always sang a song (I think) called “Friday-day” which goes like this:
1st verse: Hooray, hooray, today is Friday day. All week long without a blooper, hit the books and come out super. Friday we’re all in a stupor. What’s today? FRIDAY DAY!!
*2nd verse: Hooray, hooray, today is Friday day. Five full days to get some learning, and we never stop our yearning. but by now our guts are churning. What’s today? FRIDAY DAY!!
3rd verse: Hooray, hooray, today is Friday day. Other days are overrated, all those classes that we hated, five long days we’ve sat & waited. What’s today? FRIDAY DAY!!
* I’m not entirely sure on this verse, so I improvised. That’s all I got on that one, as I can’t find the complete lyrics anywhere. I want that songbook.
In 3rd grade I was made to take private violin lessons, and showed little interest. My mother wanted me to be a classical musician– only. My dad was a good man at heart, but an alcoholic. He was functional, but his addiction took away from his interest in being a father to either of his sons. My younger brother was forced to suffer these violin lessons with me, and had even less interest & ability.
We ‘performed’ once at an Oshkosh recital, and we were the first ones to leave the stage, so the really good kids could play. They were brilliant, but I remember thinking to myself that I didn’t want to be with them. This leads to a major point I’ll make about music, and anything else. Go with your strengths & your heart. I never felt the passion for classical music, that I do for rock, so I instinctively knew where to draw the line.
Anyways, these private lessons lasted only 2-3 months, and were then dropped, because I had stopped practicing. That’s how it is in an alcoholic family. No one can just talk it out. Everything is manipulated & distorted, so you have to find unhealthy ways to express yourself. This is what one must recover from, to become a healthy adult.
Back to grade school music class, one day in maybe fourth grade, Mrs. Doverspike found the generosity in her heart to let one of us finally pick a song, so I raised my hand and called out “Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles, with the page number. Everyone got REALLY excited when they turned to it, and when we hit the first chorus, you could hear our class singing boldly & in unison all the way down the hall. Mrs. Doverspike knew talent when she saw it, and I was placed into a leading role for every grade school production.
I was a “Drummer Boy” for every Christmas concert. I did it because it got me out of the chorus for a few songs– supposedly to warm up. I really didn’t need to ‘get loose’, but I learned early to grab rock star privileges wherever you can get them. Each year it became another song I had to drop out of, to prepare for my bit with the hand drum & mallet. I never thought I was great at percussion, and always wanted guitar lessons, but despite being from a privileged family (upper-middle class), I would have to wait. My parents didn’t want that noise.
At Winneconne back then, young Wolves were allowed to take a real art class in 4th & 5th grade, which I did. It was Mr. Griffin, then Mr. Bartelt [?] in middle school, I don’t remember either of their first names, but both were excellent. I went to a different high school in a different town, and the teachers in these subjects weren’t nearly as good in my judgment, so that’s when I stopped with music & art classes.
In middle school you had to take either: marching band, chorus, or music appreciation every year. I opted for the last. Overall, Todd Oxley was very good, but he weighted towards ragtime, tin pan alley, early big band & opera– his favorite. Mr. Oxley had a problem with anything that came after the Beatles. An interesting movie on a new musical tool called the synthesizer, made an impression, but that was as current it would get.
Mr. Oxley was adamant that heavy metal was ‘devil music,’ and was playing AC/DC records to the class a grade ahead of us, as a study in Satanism. One day I walked into class, sat down in the back center chair as always, and saw “AC/DC”, “Black Sabbath” & “Ozzy Osbourne” on the blackboard. I got excited, and said loudly, “I like them, what’s that about?” Mr. Oxley snapped back, “That’s devil music hidden in distortion,” while angrily erasing the board. The kids (myself included) laughed at him, and told everyone in the school. The next year, he removed Satanism from his music curricula.
This is the most influential children’s record for me. I listened to all the Disney animation records as a kid, and The Jungle Book (1967) outclassed all of them. It holds up because of its genius musical soundtrack, and unforgettable characters. The gate-fold packaging, with artwork, was superb for all the Disney releases. I didn’t see The Jungle Book movie until it was re-released theatrically in North America in 1978. That’s how it was with Disney back then, and that’s why these records were so popular.
Only The Lion King (1994) comes close as a musical & film, and it largely depends on what you grew up with, in choosing a favorite. The original Jungle Book record is narrated, with character dialogue and the famous songs you know & love weaved in: “Trust in Me” by Kaa, “The Bare Necessities” by Baloo & Mowgli, “I Wan’na Be Like You” by King Louie & Baloo, and “That’s What Friends Are For” by the Singing Vultures & Shere Khan. Rhythm, groove, crazy rhyming, alliteration, and other songwriting tools come through. It takes brains & brawn to deliver these hooks, and The Jungle Book is loaded with both.
I rode the school bus, grades 1-8, and it was by far the roughest bus in the Winneconne school system. It was for the kids furthest out, and most lived on family farms. It carried grades K-12, so you had big kids mixed in with grade-schoolers, and a bus driver with a laissez-faire approach to discipline. He didn’t believe in constant supervision, he believed in not crashing the bus, so he mostly let us work our stuff out amongst ourselves. Only (maybe) twice did Gus-the-bus-driver, stop and take action in all my years. He would handle most of it by looking up into his rearview mirror to eyeball the situation. It was a tough & thankless job with all types of crazy.
I was first picked-up, and last dropped-off, every year until 8th grade. I spent a lot of time on that bus, and the radio was always going. For years it was 1280 WNAM, which was AM, top-40, conservative talk radio. For those who don’t know: FM is stereo radio; AM is mono. I think Gus-the-bus-driver was a fan of Paul Harvey, who rambled on every morning with, “The Rest of the Story”.
I heard countless broadcasts, and can’t ever recall him getting to a point. I would usually stop listening after a minute, and look around only to see that everyone had already given up too. NONE of the kids liked Paul Harvey. This is what happens when someone who doesn’t like music is put in charge of the radio. I was part of the rebellion that finally got our school bus radio station switched to 105.7 WAPL, which is FM rock.
Like I said, it was a tough bus. It had a primitive communication system which worked something like this. If you were sitting next to the heater in the rear, in January, and it was getting too hot, you just yelled “TURN OFF THE HEAT,” and Gus would flip a switch– and there was no more heat. If you later called for it to be turned back on, he wouldn’t be so quick to hear you, if he did at all– so you learned when. That’s an example of the responsibility that came with sitting in the back of our school bus.
Just to show how cruel boys can be, we called the fat girls “heifers,” which has a nasty sting coming from America’s Dairyland. Around 1982, we had a few high school heifers sitting in the back, in what was cool, but rough territory. For reference, sitting up front was for grade-schoolers, and it was how to be ‘on gool’. Gool is imaginary sanctuary. For instance, “You can’t touch me, I’m on gool!” This works well enough in 2nd grade, but evaporates by middle school. Anyways, when Joan Jett and the Blackhearts hit big with “I Love Rock ‘n Roll”, the intro drumbeat & riff would start, and one of the heifers in back would scream “TURN IT UP,” and Gus would turn it up. It was a rockin’ school bus– in every sense.
The point I’m making is that music education happens everywhere, because music is constantly around us. Network television & radio were the media back then. They worked together, as television brought new music to kids, even before MTV. The three network channels CBS, NBC & ABC (along with PBS), all programmed the same time-slots, with 3:00-5:00 in the afternoon being for kids. So while we were watching re-runs of Gilligan’s Island, commercials from K-tel Records would appear, and impact us.
K-Tel was a budget record label that would put together sampler albums, and advertise when we were watching. K-tel mostly sucked, and kids didn’t buy into much of it. But in 1980, K-tel released their three best (and most remembered) albums: The Rock Album, Rock 80, and Power Play. Seeing & hearing Debbie Harry sing, “Call Me” in this commercial, still jolts me. It was meant to. K-tel’s Power Play brought Blondie, punk, and new wave to the midwest & many other places.
Columbia House was the original subscription music service. When you signed up, you’d get a bunch of ‘free’ albums for a penny, and in turn you promised to buy a set number of albums over the coming year– whether you realized it or not. The box of records, cassettes, and/or 8-track tapes arrived a few weeks later, along with the real bill.
This is called as “negative option billing,” which is defined as an unfair business practice by the FTC. It’s where customers are given goods or services that were not previously ordered, and must either continue to pay for the service or specifically decline it in advance of billing. The reason Columbia House (and later BMG) could offer such steep discounts was because they obtained a copy of the master tapes from all the other labels, and manufactured their own records, tapes & CDs to sell. The artists did not get paid for any of these sales.
The biggest problem for me as a consumer with all these ‘music house clubs’ over the years was their poor selection. Their titles were mostly lame & old. Columbia House was always in TV Guide, meaning it was in nearly every household with a television, for two decades. I would look through and mark the ones I wanted, but it was always only 2 or 3, and you needed to pick a lot more, so I always tossed it away as trash.
BMG was the competitor of Columbia House, who bought them out in 2005. BMG would slip in their catalogs with a purchase of any Sony stereo component, since they are partners. It would be packed-in with the instruction manual & warranty card. I finally went for it, when I got my new Sony CD player around 1992, at the point when BMG offered “10 CDs for the price of half,” meaning you could get 10 CDs for $27. Their selection finally included titles from alternative artists, so it was a GREAT deal. In the entire history of Columbia House & BMG, this was the only time to ever try this deal with an honest approach– IMO.
It was at the end of 7th grade, when I finally took guitar lessons. Becker Music at the end of Main St, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It’s been a family operation for decades, and I learned from Roger Becker, the son. They were all old-school taskmasters, but he was the most mellow. They could get abusive, especially the mother & father, and that’s why I finally quit as I was starting high school. That reason, along with my parents getting divorced, which takes the fun out of everything.
I had learned a lot in a year-and-a-half– all the basics on chords, notes & technique. It wasn’t until dental school that I started getting back into playing guitar. Lots of other students played, and Guitar Player started publishing tablatures of songs in their monthly magazine. Also, album songbooks which they accurately transcribed with permission from the artist, became the best way learn to play a great record like Nirvana’s Nevermind, for only $20, and some time.
At Marquette University back then, Kinko’s photocopying shop on 17th & Wisconsin was the place to take songbooks, magazines, etc, and get yourself an educational copy at low cost. I still have many of those photocopied tabs.
I was starting to practice a lot again in dental school, by myself as a study break activity. As the dental school years went on, I took more & more study breaks. It wasn’t until my final semester of dental school, in January 1994, when all my requirements were completed and I was one of many of us who were just marking time until graduation, that I was introduced to marijuana.
I grew up straight. My first beer was in my sophomore year of high school. That’s the way I partied through college & dental school, until weed. But that night, my guitar & amp were around, as I first got stoned with my friends. I then picked it up, plugged in, and started playing more freely & naturally than ever. I was age 25. Since then, marijuana has been my preference. It’s a gateway to another part of the mind, that helps me relax & be creative. I have never tried anything stronger, prescription or illicit. I believe I’ve lived ethically, and have no regrets on that.
I took the Florida dental boards in May-June 1994. By August, I was working as a professional dentist in Orlando, FL. A year later, I began writing songs, and conceived becoming a musical artist. I made an attempt in 1997-98 to make a record, which was pressed as a cassette tape. I had passion, and some great songs, but no clue what I was doing– so it failed. Around 2000-2002 I attempted a self recording, using two borrowed recording consoles: one digital & one cassette tape. I studied, and learned some more useful stuff, but the final recordings hastily pressed to CD, still weren’t good enough. Another expensive failure, and lesson learned.
Then, for a period of 7-8 years, I focused on personal & dental professional aspects of my life, and music was set aside. I spent this period intensely studying dentistry, as well as Marxism, history, film, music, art, and science. But I never stopped writing songs. When one came, I would get it down on the back of an envelope, or whatever. I had purchased a digital 8-track console, and recorded all my songs onto it, so I knew I had demos. It was these songs from this console, that I burned onto CD and gave to Jay Stanley, when I went in to record Magnified in the summer of 2011. All my music history since then, is already on this site.
No discussion of music education is complete without a few thoughts on ethics. I’ve discussed the Columbia House & BMG scams already. While researching, I was reminded of all the ways my friends had cheated them, and even learned a few new ones. There was never any ethical dilemma amongst kids when it came to shorting the industry. They were overcharging us, and advertising their garbage everywhere, so we learned to take back when & where we could. Sneaking into shows, moving up from bad seats, recording albums onto cassette tape, ripping CDs & DVDs, etc, was all good.
Napster changed everything from 1999-2001, because you couldn’t put a mp3 in your hand, nor could you trace its source. How you feel about what happened to that revolutionary website, says a lot about your musical ethics. Napster was cool, and for the kids. The music industry ramped up its corporate & political machinery to kill Napster so Harvard graduate Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, could rule the ‘authorized’ streaming & download market with iTunes. That’s when pirate sites like Bittorrent, Limewire, Kazaa, etc, popped up like mushrooms to replace Napster.
Most music today is shared via streaming services. Sharing mp3’s illicitly is new radio, so keep doing it. But it is not cool to steal from artists selling their physical product. It isn’t cool to steal from record stores & vendors, as they work to keep music available, and need to be paid fairly. To hide coveted records in obscure bins, until you have enough money to buy it, is to cheat not only people looking for that record, but also the establishment as it keeps the store from making a sale. As a rule, tip musicians generously when they move & entertain you. Unless it’s superstar level, or near that, pretty much every musician is underpaid. Music is what gives us joy & hope. It gives us strength & courage. We need music to get through this COVID-19 pandemic, and help guide us to something better. Always be honest with music, and it will infinitely reward you.
I busted Pussy Riot three days ago, when I published Top-10 non-influential music acts. They have been promoting & publicizing concerts they haven’t performed, for far too long. Pussy Riot couldn’t possibly perform the shows they list on their official performance calendar. What follows are screenshots & discussion to prove this.
I already illustrated how Pussy Riot claims to have played the Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix, AZ on April 15, 2020, so I’ll move to their next previous ‘show’ which was Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, NM, on April 14, 2020. Here it is:
Except the Meow Wolf hasn’t had a show since March 23, 2020; and have cancelled everything through June 7, 2020 [!] as of this screenshot below. I’ve left the time stamp in on all but the first screenshot.
I’ll move to this scrolling calendar screenshot, to move things along:
Pussy Riot ‘rocked’ the Mohawk (Indoor) Austin, TX on April 12, 2020. Except that Austin, Texas has been officially under shutdown since April 8, 2020, so someone explain that to me? Most of these clubs won’t let you go back in time, on their online event calendars, so I had to find another way to prove these gigs were impossible.
Pussy Riot ‘killed it’ at the White Oak Music Hall– Downstairs, in Houston TX, on April 10, 2020. Nevermind that Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo issued the stay-at-home & non-essential business shutdown order on March 24, 2020.
The same applied when Pussy Riot ‘laid down to the law’ at the Grey Eagle in Asheville NC. on April 7, 2020; and ‘knocked ’em dead’ at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC on April 4, 2020. Check out the fake reviews, to non-existent performances, created by bots & flunkies:
Recent tour reviews: Sick gig! An awesome experience…. Anyone can be pussy riot!! And the Vega venue is pretty cool too!! Terrific staff behind the bar serving up good drinks & sharp lines Also there is an experience centre for artists and their works on the mezzanine area
The show was definitely something I had never witnessed before as in music concert. By the time I came out of venue my head was spinning with it all . The long and the short of the night is that It sucks to live in Russia and ya gotta feel,sorry for the people that do . Way too much reading screens for my liking and could have done with some mellow time dancing only type stuff but I guess they are all about the protest/ message so fair play to them .Felt good at least the money for shirts go to a worthy course.
I was surprised to only see two members but I enjoyed the intensity of their political opinions. they are brave truth tellers and I imagine Putin’s made them pay for it.
Above is a screen of Pussy Riot ‘destroying it’ at the UC Theatre in Berkeley, CA on March 14, 2020. At least ‘9 people were there’ and checked-in online– as you can read. But what about this headline, published March 12, 2020 at 7:59 AM PDT?
Coronavirus: Gov. Newsom orders statewide cancellation of gatherings over 250. Ban on large gatherings at least through March.
That definitively tells you something’s not right with Pussy Riot at 1720, a chic LA warehouse district venue, on March 13, 2020:
… and at the Constellation Room in Santa Ana, CA in March 12, 2020:
Going way all the way back, their first ‘official’ show is listed as April 22, 2012 in London, UK, But Pussy Riot was locked up & on trial in Moscow, Russia at the time. The same applies to their April 3, 2013 phony gig in Iowa City, IA.
Pussy Riot does not pass the smell test. They are a fake construct of western intelligence agencies, and have no genuine fans. These screenshots are damning & definitive proof, vindicating everything I have discussed & theorized concerning Pussy Riot.
Preface: This began as a project on my personal Fakebook page on Thursday, May 7, 2020. It’s purpose was to think outside the box, presenting an interesting alternative to Fakebook’s cookie-cutter “10-day record challenges,” where you post an album cover per day, with no comments, and expect people to respond or to be interested.
Pictures need captions. Therefore I provided a few (and then some) with each image. It’s been edited slightly to fit this format & audience.
Day 1 of 10. In the name of originality, for the next ten days I will post one music act that had NO influence on me. This is harder than it may seem, especially when you go way back. We are often ignorant of what has influenced our culture, music & art. It has to be pretty bad, and thus culturally insignificant, to have no influence on me. Only the most empty & vapid timepieces make this list.
Head East’s Flat as a Pancake (1975) sucks so hard, and in so many ways. Did you know they were from St. Louis? That explains their band name, right? “Never Been Any Reason” was their payola driven AOR hit of their era. AC/DC’s worst Bon Scott song beats this shit by days. How about that title & their “artwork”? Yuck!!
Day 2 of 10 on shitty records which have NO influence on me. I’ll do a different introduction each day, because I have a LOT to say about bad music. For starters, it doesn’t get criticized enough. Pat & Debby Boone were reactionary popular figures who shilled for the establishment their entire professional lives. This is the antithesis of rock music. That is why this family duet sucks.
Pat Boone is everything I’m not, making a career by doing ‘palatable’ versions of Fats Domino & Little Richard classics, for rip-off labels like Republic & Dot Records, intended for square white folks who didn’t get rock & roll back in 1955. Then in the 1960’s Boone went into gospel, and later wrote books like Pray to Win: God Wants You to Succeed (1981).
On In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy (1997), Pat Boone revives his shtick by attempting to cover the genre from AC/DC to Zeppelin, from a 700 Club perspective. It is painful, pathetic & evil in intention. I wasn’t influenced by his sappy daughter Debby either. She was featured a lot on TV when her one big hit came out, and as a kid I always changed the channel or walked out of the room (in a hurry) when she started belting it out.
Day 3 of 10 on unlistenable & overindulgent music that has NO influence on me. In fact it repels me. Emerson Lake & Palmer was a 1970’s trio, that made triple album projects, and did a lot of trilogies. They even named an album Trilogy (1972), their fourth [!] record. Featured here is Works Vol 1 (1977), which clocks in at 87:23. Of course there’s a Works Vol 2 (1977), which adds another 43+ minutes to the musical onslaught– and completes the LP trilogy! All this rightfully earns ELP ‘Day 3’ on my un-influential list.
Honestly, the ELP acronym never did it for me. I think it should have been LPE. It probably wouldn’t have mattered much, as ELP proved there are lots of ways a bad idea can go wrong. PEL perhaps? Carl Palmer is an amazing drummer, but I liked Asia better with their one great hit “Heat of the Moment,” and so do 95+% of you. Greg Lake had worked with Robert Fripp in King Crimson, which shows you what the problem with ELP was. It’s Keith Emerson getting out of control with the heavy-handed pretentiousness. Lots of noodling, with not enough songwriting, translating into massive boredom for the listener. Zzzzzzzzzzz….
Day 4 of 10 on god awful records which have had NO influence on me. Rock operas suck, okay? Stryper combined hair metal with the King James version of the Bible, and it hurts my ears. Stryper was the leading “Christian rock” heavy metal band of its day, whose name is an acronym: Salvation Through Redemption Yielding Peace, Encouragement, and Righteousness. This band gives you a headache, just trying to remember its name.
S.T.R.Y.P.E.R. were there to take up the sword of truth in their battle against existential evil, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord in Heaven. At least until the 1990’s. On the unsanctified flipside were KISS (Knights In Satan’s Service), AC/DC (After Christ/Devil Comes), and all the rest of us unredeemed sinners. And yet, Stryper fits in neatly with Bon Jovi & Dokken! And then there’s the moronic ‘Satanic backmasking,’ which Stryper, et al, joined the crusade against– with zeal. Do you get all that? For some instinctive reason, I never did.
Day 5 of 10 on musical posers I disregard. Twisted Sister were the New Jersey Dolls, ten years after. Stay Hungry (1984) put Twisted Sister on top, after a dozen years of hacking around & endless line-up changes. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” was their smash hit, with its ham-fisted MTV video, painfully parodying Animal House (1978). Now look at them yo-yo’s, that’s the way you do it, you play the guitar on the MTV. After taking in the earring & the make-up (yeah buddy, that’s his own hair), I was struck as kid by how OLD this band looked. You really felt the 1980’s sucking when Quiet Riot & TS were in their heyday.
Dee Snider was somehow appointed ambassador for modern rock music during the infamous PMRC Senate hearings in 1985, lending his deep thoughts on music censorship legislation. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” was one of the Parents Music Resource Center’s “filthy fifteen.” The 14 others, deemed dangerous to our minds by Washington elites were: Prince “Darling Nikki”, Sheena Easton “Sugar Walls”, Judas Priest “Eat Me Alive”, Vanity “Strap On ‘Robbie Baby'”, Mötley Crüe “Bastard”, AC/DC “Let Me Put My Love Into You”, Madonna “Dress You Up”, W.A.S.P. “Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)”, Def Leppard “High ‘n’ Dry (Saturday Night)”, Mercyful Fate “Into the Coven”, Black Sabbath “Trashed”, Mary Jane Girls “In My House”, Venom “Possessed”, Cyndi Lauper “She Bop”.
Sex, masturbation, violence, language, drug & alcohol use, and occult [!] were the official reasons for applying “parental warning” stickers to select performers’ records, tapes & CD’s. The PMRC was shut down in the mid-1990’s when it became hopeless for them, as every rap, rock & pop CD had ‘explicit content’ by their standards, rendering their warning labels ubiquitous, and thus useless. The PMRC had also become overwhelmed by backlash. Napster was next, and nobody in Washington, or the music industry was ready for that.
The PMRC was NOT a broad popular movement, as they wanted everyone to believe, but only four people– supported by corporate media hype. These “Filthy Four” were: Tipper Gore (Al’s wife); Susan Baker, wife of Treasury Secretary James Baker under Reagan/Bush; and Pam Howar & Sally Nevius, both wives of Washington big wheels. The PMRC was bi-partisan & well-connected. The MeToo campaign has deep roots in the US deep state.
Getting back to Dee Snider & Co… there are at least a dozen better albums from 1984 than TS’s Stay Hungry. In any order: REM, Reckoning; U2, The Unforgettable Fire; Replacements, Let it Be; Metallica, Ride the Lightning; Pretenders, Learning to Crawl; Stevie Ray Vaughn & Double Trouble, Couldn’t Stand the Weather; Van Halen, 1984; Iron Maiden, Powerslave; Prince, Purple Rain; Madonna, Like a Virgin; Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA, John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Milk & Honey.
There are three (3) questions which determine what you know about heavy metal, from fans who were there back in the day. 1) Roth vs. Hagar. 2) Night Ranger vs. Damn Yankees. 3) What are your two (2) favorite Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Van Halen & Iron Maiden albums– & why? The first two are gimmies, and scored by how quickly & assured your answer is. The third tells us what you know. Being wrong on either of the first two is immediate failure, and back to school. Those are the rules, ask anyone who knows.
Day 6 of 10 on horribly ugly attempts at making rock music, which had NO influence on me. What can I say about G.G. Allin that hasn’t already been said? Here’s one: Every fucking Nazi skinhead band glorifies G.G. Allin, or at least has been influenced by his shit. Freaks, Faggots, Drunks & Junkies (1988) is his ‘definitive’ record, with representative titles including: “Suck My Ass It Smells,” “Dog Shit,” “Sleeping in My Piss,” “Anti-Social Masturbator,” “Last In Line For The Gang Bang,” “Commit Suicide,” “Outlaw Scumfuc,” “Cunt Sucking Cannibal,” “Young Little Meat,” & “I Wanna Kill You.”
The most helpful documentary is: Hated: GG Allin & The Murder Junkies (1993), filmed up through his death by alcohol & heroin overdose. I refuse to post the link, because much of it is revolting pornography, but it’s on YouTube and has all the sordid details. I recommend viewing it on an empty stomach & showering afterwards, if you dare to watch. You’ve been warned. It’s no wonder G.G. Allin caught the attention of Geraldo Rivera, Morton Downey Jr, & Jerry Springer.
In short, this isn’t punk; it’s disgusting & sociopathic. G.G. Allin is the most despicable figure in music history. He never missed an opportunity to wallow in his filth & depravity. With the COVID-19 pandemic a reality in 2020, the legacy of G.G. Allin needs to be put in its proper perspective. The earthly life form he best compares to is E. coli. G.G Allin personifies excrement, which the rest of us must clean up, otherwise we’ll be destroyed too.
Day 7 of 10 on musical illusions I ignored. Here’s a straight-forward music question: Who were the Beatles? Obviously it’s John, Paul, George & Ringo, produced by George Martin. Fast-forward 20 years to an era of MTV & MIDI, and here’s a deceptive & complex question: Who is Milli Vanilli? Back then I didn’t care about Fab Morvan & Rob Pilatus, because I loved the Pixies, so I thought this Munich pop/R&B act was tame.
In the months after Milli Vanilli’s now infamous 1990 Grammy performance, after winning Best New Artist, their lip-syncing scandal broke, and this act was declared a hoax. Fans disowned their Milli Vanilli records when it was reported that all their hits had actually been sung by three no-names: Charles Shaw, Brad Howell & Charles Davis. So who is Milli Vanilli?
This becomes a murky question, so we need more background to answer it. Arista Records CEO Clive Davis, responded to the scandal by dumping the frontmen, Fab & Rob, while deleting Milli Vanilli’s entire album & song catalog, which had been worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Arista even offered fans a refund on their album purchase, with a return, something no one ever heard of– before or since.
This was a conscious attempt by industry mogul Clive Davis at damage control, as pop performers were being criticized, especially by grunge punks, for lip-syncing their “live” performances. Madonna, Janet Jackson & Paula Abdul (to name just a few) all used MIDI backing vocal tracks to boost their live performances, and allow them to dance more. My reaction to all this at the time was, “If their fans are too stupid to not be aware of this, then they deserve to be ripped off.” I still feel the same way.
So who is Milli Vanilla? Frank Farian was a German songwriter & producer, and the brainchild of Milli Vanilli. Farian had done this type of band image manipulation, a decade earlier with “Daddy Cool” by Boney M, an American disco & Euro-pop hit in 1976. It has over 154 million views on YouTube, so it’s not unknown or forgotten. Boney M was presented as a young, black Caribbean soul group; but really it’s fat, white Frank Farian singing & putting it all together in the studio with session players. Then he hired the people you see in this video to act as the band. This technique has been ‘standard practice’ in Euro-pop since its inception in the late 1970’s.
Anyways, Frank Fabian did this with Milli Vanilli from 1987-90. The real tragedy was that two naive kids, who were models & could break dance, but barely spoke English, were manipulated into being frontmen for a huge musical hoax, which made both Frank Fabian & Clive Davis millions. But none of these Milli Vanilli facts or events are documented in Clive Davis: The Soundtrack Of Our Lives (2017). This ‘documentary’ spends about 30 seconds on Milli Vanilli, and interviews none of the principals.
Clive Davis, who is portrayed throughout the film as having the “magic ear” for spotting talent & always doing his homework, claims he didn’t know Milli Vanilli was a lip-synced act. Anyone can now see that this Clive Davis propaganda piece (available on Netflix) was made to get him & Whitney Houston into the R&R HoF, and it worked, as both are 2020 inductees. When magic like this happens to artists under Davis’ wing, they’re supposed to look into the nearest camera, and in a full-throated voice ejaculate, “Thank you, Clive!!” Call it a nod of respect to the Black Hand.
In many ways, Frank Fabian & Clive Davis were Milli Vanilli. They are the version of this act which I despise most. Today, Fab Morvan & Rob Pilatus are rightfully seen as victims of the industry. Rob Pilatus couldn’t handle the shame of it all, and died of an alcohol & prescription pill overdose at age 32 in 1998. Fab Morvan cleaned himself up, learned English, took singing lessons, and figured his way around a music studio & live stage.
I’ve had to do a lot of research for this list, and much of it has been tedious & draining. I’ve dug into the lives of performers & their associates, many of whom I really didn’t have much interest in, all to figure out the truth, as best I could. But there have been moments of joy & rapture. Patrick Bet-David’s Untold Stories of Milli Vanilli is a very revealing interview with Fab Morvan, posted two months ago, which answers a lot of questions that had lingered, so I highly recommend it. Also, see this linked video above from November, 2018, which brought tears to my eyes. Fab Morvan always wanted to be a singer, and he finally proves he can do it. That is the Milli Vanilli I can respect.
Day 8 of 10 on non-influential music figures. If you’ve ever looked though used record bins around flea markets, in thrift stores, and at Goodwill & Salvation Army locations, then you have seen Mitch Miller records– alongside Mantovani, Ray Conniff, and everything else no one wants. Mitch Miller records just sit there forever, flipped past without a second thought by everyone who is looking for good records. If you took all the Mitch Miller records, in all the used record bins, you’d have tens of millions of Mitch Miller records that no one wants. How did this happen?
Most people flipping through these bins have no idea that Mitch Miller was the most powerful person in the American music industry from 1948-1963 as head of A&R, first at Mercury, then moving to Columbia Records in 1950. Mitch Miller decided what America heard, by controlling the output of the largest & most prestigious post-WWII record label. This included stuff like setting the music of Charlie Parker to no-name big bands with strings, gimmicky songs & arrangements for artists such as Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, etc; causing many stars to eventually leave Columbia. Mitch Miller loved military music, music for kids, and of course Christmas music. All this gets categorized under the catch all– easy listening.
Mitch Miller hated rock & roll, passing on Elvis Presley (RCA), Buddy Holly (Coral), and the Beatles. In January 1958 Mitch Miller told NME, “Rock ‘n’ roll is musical baby food. It is the worship of mediocrity, brought about by a passion for conformity.” When the Fab Four signed with Capitol in November 1963, that was the last straw for Mitch Miller as head of A&R at Columbia. He was removed, and set out to pasture as a consultant at moldy Decca Records.
This is when Clive Davis took over at Columbia. For comparison, Clive Davis was able to survive his “drugola” scandal in 1973, where Mitch Miller disappeared, because Davis still had industry connections. Clive Davis was retained by Columbia Pictures, and started Arista Records in 1974. Staying connected to the Black Hand allows him to remain powerful through today, as an industry tastemaker & gatekeeper.
Drugola in one paragraph: gangster Pasquale Falcone created a fictitious trucking company to bill false invoices to Columbia Records, with the cooperation of David Wynshaw, who was Clive Davis’ hand-picked protoge as new head of A&R, when he became President of Columbia Records. This is how heroin was transported from Montreal to New York. It was busted in 1973 by the FBI & RCMP, in a joint operation. The heroin & cash were used to bribe radio programmers & DJ’s as “pay for play.” There was a HUGE cover-up, as this went all the way up to the Commission– meaning the governing body of the American mafia. It got sensational & political for awhile, then it disappeared. Clive Davis was convicted of tax evasion, but never served jail time. In 1986, CBS Records & Gambino family associates were again federally arrested, celebrities were made, etc– but that’s another long paragraph.
Long before karaoke, there was the NBC television series, Sing Along with Mitch (1961–1964). You will feel at least 50% whiter after watching any episode– or your money back. Led by Mitch Miller conducting his all-white, all-male choral group, viewers were presented with lyrics at the bottom of the black & white television screen, and encouraged by Mitch to sing along. Above is a famous clip where Johnny Carson joined Mitch Miller & the Gang for a sing-along of “Mary Lou”, the 1926 classic by Abe Lyman’s California Orchestra. Bob McGrath from Sesame Street was also in the chorus.
There were aspects of minstrel show in Sing Along with Mitch. Leslie Uggams was a regular, who is most recognized by Generation X for portraying Kizzy Reynolds in the television miniseries Roots (1977). In 1954, Leslie Uggams (age 10) made a record for MGM, which included a reworking of the song “Santa Baby” as “Uncle Santa,” with words unsuitable for a child. As you can see in this video above, Leslie Uggams’ face has been whitened, and she’s wearing a bad wig to hide her nappy hair. That’s the type stuff an ‘outsider’ had to deal with from Mitch Miller & the Gang.
Day 9 of 10 on non-entities who were blown up & then crashed badly, and thus had zero influence on me. This is the Leif Garrett edition, and I Feel the Need (1978). For me, Leif Garrett was the quintessential disco rebel teen idol, far outstripping Donny Osmond, David Cassidy, Shaun Cassidy, Willie Aames, AND Adam Rich. Leif Garrett was a modern prototype, that Justin Bieber modeled, perfected & conquered two decades later. For reference, New Kids on the Block is the cultural midpoint between these two titans of teen.
Being a “teen idol” means you can’t play an instrument, write songs, or sing. Just smile & be a heartthrob, and the producer will take care of the rest. Seeing this album cover again, brought back memories for me of seeing Leif Garrett on a cover of a magazine, on TV, or in a poster some girl had pinned up. I would always look at it for a bit, and then say to myself, “This guy really thinks he’s hot shit.” And for awhile he was.
Leif Garrett was best remembered by the young girls for his mane, and by many young boys for his two-part episode on “CHiPs” titled “Roller Derby 1 & 2.” September 22, 1979– the S3 premiere of Ponch & John riding around, never having to draw their guns from their holsters, meaning it was a big television event for all of us. Both episodes were boring let downs, with Leif Garrett’s whiny acting, followed by his weak & pretentious singing. Viewing in retrospect & knowing what we know now, it appears he’s on coke & quaaludes the whole time. A few months later, just five days before his 18th birthday, Leif Garrett crashed his Porsche 911 while high on booze & pills. The result was his closest friend, Rowland Winkler, 19, being paralyzed for life. Career to off.
Being a heroin addict and never recovering, means you get screwed out of royalties. In 1998, Leif Garrett said in an interview, “My former record label was bought out. The label was started by me … meaning my music started it, funded it. And then it was bought out by some company that released the [Leif Garrett] Greatest Hits Collection. Not only have I not seen any royalties from that, but they wanted me to promote it — the compensation being a couple of CDs.”
VH1’s Behind The Music on Leif Garrett covers what you need to know, including how to pronounce his name. It’s Lāf, long ‘a’. Since I was a kid, I had been one of millions who had been mispronouncing it as ‘leaf’. How about you? This leads to a question. What kind of ‘performer’ lets his name get mispronounced over & over? What follows is my best answer to that.
This was a kid who was made an offer anyone would have jumped at– to be a rock star– and had no idea what he was being led into. As I have discussed previously, the music industry is run by sharks who hook artists (and everyone else) on drugs (or whatever), so they can steal the money. That’s what I hate most about music– the corrupt industry element. Record executives don’t make hits, it’s songwriters & performers who do that, with help from good producers. The lesson in this instance is that this kid should never have been hyped the way he was, because he could never live up to it. And BTW, who were the supposed ‘adults in the room’ on his behalf? Being over-hyped made his crash that much harder. He would be much better off today, if he had never been made a star. That’s the sad tale of Leaf Garrett.
Day 10 of 10: Everything I have written up to this point has been to prepare you for this murky, murky question. Who is Pussy Riot? Short answer: Pyotr Verzilov & Nadezhda ‘Nadya’ Tolokonnikova. What follows is a long explanation, that can’t be any shorter to retain its completeness & coherency. Pyotr Verzilov is a Russian-Canadian artist, activist, and the driving force behind Pussy Riot. He surely works for/with Canadian, US & UK Intelligence Services. Pyotr Verzilov masterminded “A Punk Prayer” in February 2012, which was a “performance” at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, where they bum-rushed the altar for about 30 seconds, and jumped around punching the air, while their media crew shot video & took photographs. Previous performances consisted of Pussy Riot doing their ski-mask-air-guitar-with-no-drums dance routine in public, with music blasting through loudspeakers, while their video cameras rolled. That’s how early Pussy Riot videos were made.
Five women were arrested for the “Punk Prayer,” and this was how Pussy Riot was introduced to the world, as a feminist punk band fighting Putin’s totalitarianism. Pyotr Verzilov was there for all these “performances,” and he produced “A Punk Prayer: The Video,” then released it on YouTube. All of a sudden, three clueless girls, two Russian & one Ukrainian: Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, were caught in an covert intelligence propaganda war between Russia & the West.
Those three women in Pussy Riot were the only ones who were convicted in 2012. The two other women never had their names released. What explains that? The most logical explanation is that at least two members of the original Pussy Riot were Russian agents who had infiltrated the group. Keep in mind, Vladimir Putin originated in the KGB of the Soviet Union, and maintains close connections in Moscow. Pussy Riot was considered subversive, so they would be a target for infiltration.
It’s the ‘Russian agent’ narrative that explains the early release of Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova in late 2013, as this whole spectacle had become an embarrassment for Vladimir Putin, and the Sochi Winter Olympics were in February 2014. Releasing these three girls early from prison allowed them the freedom to protest outside the event, which they did. But the truth is, Pussy Riot was a much more powerful symbol for their reactionary causes when they were behind bars. There they could play martyrs, which is easy for women with the right connections these days.
Pussy Riot got REALLY connected while in prison. Pyotr Verzilov, who was then married to Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, became a representative & dealmaker for Pussy Riot on the international stage. He made contacts with human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, who took up the cause. Barack Obama supported Pussy Riot covertly through the CIA, while Noam Chomsky became a big booster in 2016. Musical celebrities including: Madonna, Paul McCartney, Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill/Riot Grrrl founder), and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, all got in line & expressed support for Pussy Riot.
Pyotr Verzilov then created Pussy Riot’s news website MediaZone, which is surely a CIA/MI6/CIS (Canadian Intelligence Services) front, through which all Pussy Riot content is now made & distributed. In 2014: Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, Yuri Andrukhovych were each recipients of the prestigious Hannah Arendt Prize, which comes with a generous endowment & privileges you don’t know. In 2015, Pussy Riot appeared on S3/E3 of House of Cards, the ground-breaking Netflix series, where they are in the episode, and ‘perform’ through the end credits. It’s not clear whether Pussy Riot was paid to be on House of Cards, or the other way around; or who made the deal, and for how much?
Above is the official Pussy Riot ‘cover album’ titled, America’s Greatest Hits: Rockin’ in the Free World (2016). Nowhere [!] can you find who the actual musicians are, but there is no bleeping way it is any of the people who claim to be Pussy Riot. The copyright on YouTube is listed as: ℗ 2016 Simply Media TV Ltd. Every Pussy Riot ‘cover’ here sounds like American session musicians, singing in American accents. Yet, ‘Nadya’ still has a deep Russian accent in the Pussy Riot video “Make America Great Again,” linked below, and released in October 2016. This is straight ahead US pop production. Opening line, “Does your vagina have a brand? Let your vagina start a band!” This banality is what is referred to in the corporate media as “pussy power.”
If you read all the Wikipedia biographies on Pussy Riot’s members, you’ll notice very little personal data is given. It is noted that many have email addresses & phone numbers which keep changing, making them difficult to find, and impossible to interview. Also, none of the women play a musical instrument. I’ve never seen a band that personally shunned the media so efficiently, yet got so much industry hype.
Pussy Riot has no songs that anybody remembers, or puts on their play list. They don’t even have an album of their own songs [!]. You can hear all of Pussy Riot’s songs in less than an hour on YouTube, which is their primary distribution channel. And yet, Pussy Riot has 289 links on Wikipedia as of this publication. For comparison, Adele, the biggest female musical superstar of the past decade, has 280. There is no innocent explanation for that. Pussy Riot reeks of provocation.
Pussy Riot has been turned up in-our-face, on every social media platform & search engine including Fakebook, Twatter, Yazoo! & Goggle. Pussy Riot is like MeToo– it’s a campaign. Since 2012, Pussy Riot has called themselves a ‘collective,’ but really they are a pool of assets, for deep-state covert psy-op campaigns. Someone else makes the music, and tells them what to say & do. Then they get dressed up & do it, while a media team films & produces it. Just like Frank Fabian did with Milli Vanilli.
Let’s talk more in detail about the music of “the most famous Russian punk band.” There are two distinct phases of the Pussy Riot campaign. The ‘punk’ period from 2011-2013, which can be called “Barrack Obama Pussy Riot.” That’s the anti-Putin anarchist version, that sang (screamed) in Russian, and projected a punk sound. Who actually played on these songs is still a mystery to most of us, but it surely wasn’t any of the girls purported to be Pussy Riot. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova screaming, and that’s it; and she has no clue Pussy Riot’s “Death of jail, freedom of protest: Kill the Sexist” is a rip-off of the Cockney Rejects “I’m Not a Fool”. There’s just no way.
“Black Snow” is an example of “Hillary Clinton Pussy Riot,” which has defined their ‘sound’ since ~2014. It’s kiddie electronica pop, looping a lame melody of “London Bridge is Falling Down” between Russian rapping. Pussy Riot’s “Pong!” (2018), is a strobe-light effect video, that literally is meant to abuse your eyes. Hillary Pussy Riot does that a lot. Their sound is now defined by a host of unknown pop producers such as: The Minister of Soundalikes, Desi Mo & Leikeli47, MARA 37, Vic Mensa & Junglepussy, and CHAIKA. “Organs” is an electronica Pussy Riot mood piece, by their favorite producer– David Andrew Sitek.
The Pussy Riot ‘pitch invasion’ at the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals (FRA v CRO) in Moscow, shows how shallow, yet well-funded this campaign is. Police uniforms were provided to Pyotr Verzilov, and three young models: Veronika Nikulshina, Olga Pakhtusova, and Olga Kurachyova. For clarity, this is Hillary Clinton Pussy Riot. The babes were filmed in a plush hotel room before the game, reading badly from scripts obviously written by someone else. This ‘new & improved’ Pussy Riot looked as if it had been custom tailored & outfitted by Louis Vuitton. There is always heavy security at an event like that, so how Pyotr Verzilov obtained police/security uniforms remains a mystery. How they had time to make it all fit so nicely, is yet another.
Usually that’s a serious offense, impersonating a police officer at such a high-profile event, but these four hooligans were sentenced to only 15 days imprisonment. A few months later, in September 2018, it was reported that Pyotr Verzilov had been hospitalized in critical condition at a toxicological department in Moscow. Doctors at the clinic suggested either an overdose, or poisoning with anti-cholinergic drugs. A few days later, Pyotr Verzilov was flown to Berlin, Germany, where he recovered. No proof of poisoning was ever presented, but this does happen to double agents, and to enemy agents who cross powerful autocrats on their own turf one too many times. Pussy Riot has been conspicuously quiet ever since.
Yesterday, I Googled: “Pussy Riot tour dates,” clicked where I was supposed to– and this official scheduler came up. It says Pussy Riot just had a concert in Phoenix, AZ on April 15, 2020– in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic shutdown. If you check this Phoenix venue’s website, the Crescent Ballroom, its calendar displays that every event in April was CANCELLED.
It is also alleged by Pussy Riot that they ‘rocked’ Santa Fe, NM on April 14, 2020; and Austin, TX on April 12, 2020. They have more ‘shows’ coming up, so check them out. And if you ever wondered what fake reviews look like, check all theirs out. Get there quickly, as all this will be taken down soon after this publication. That’s how they operate, so that’s what these screenshots are for.
A “live” Pussy Riot show can be compared to a void & lifeless version of Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable. But instead of Chelsea Girls (1966) being screened silently on the wall behind, while the Velvet Underground performed, and everyone’s mind was being blown; today it’s a video of each Pussy Riot song projected with the soundtrack, So what it is, is Nadya lip-syncing in a ski mask, doing a pale imitation of Nico.
Pussy Riot was the only modern ‘band’ I covered in this list. They are the polar opposite of my artist persona Ric Size, and therefore have NO influence on me. I fight Pussy Riot with everything I’ve got, because I know how evil they are. In comic book terms, Pussy Riot is my arch-enemy. Every article on Pussy Riot is remarkable, this one included, in that they all spend an inordinate amount of time discussing everything except music. Pussy Riot ‘fans’ are not kids. They are post-modernists, de-constructionists, anarchists, situationalists, and every other variant of pseudo-intellectual nonsense that supports bourgeois ethics.
Day 11 of 10– Postscript: This one goes to 11. Looking at stuff you don’t like with an open mind does one of two things, both of which are healthy. It either: 1) confirms what you already thought, meaning you can now dismiss it more assuredly; or 2) it blows-up a bias which led to a misunderstanding, and lets you discover something wonderful outside of your normal comfort zone.
That is what I discovered with this ‘bad top-10’ list. I have my biases like everyone else, and to be fair, I have to put them aside to prove to myself what is truly wretched & offensive. In the process, I blew up a few personal misconceptions on performers, who don’t deserve to be mentioned with the above-listed ‘bad 10’. I also learned a lot & laughed some, and I hope you did too.
This is all meant to illustrate how there can be serious artists in every significant musical genre, but they can remain hidden from you– for whatever reason. But if you always keep looking, it will eventually find you. For instance, I’m now an Abe Lyman & the California Orchestra fan. I have Mitch Miller to thank for that, and that’s a measure of redemption for him.
Take the best from each genre, and be fearless. There are lots of genres in the world that we don’t know. Respect yourself, by killing your idol worship, so you can always be true to yourself. Listen, because music is everywhere. Knowing where the bottom is (or at least having an idea), helps with genres, and I’ve shown to you here– across many styles & eras. Never forget that it’s a rough & dirty business.
Identifying all the major artists in any significant genre is the quickest way to understand it. Just for reference, Miles Davis needs at least five albums for a meaningful illustration, and that’s just a rough sketch. That’s how much substance is there. You can’t omit what is essential, because it’s disrespectful. All genres inter-relate, on a higher level, and so on. It helps to use you head when you follow you heart.
The Coronavirus Concerts deserved a full encore, so here it is. The first Coronavirus Concerts were about breaking new ground & figuring out how to do it– in a new era. With that knowledge & experience already in hand, this follow-up was captured in only a few hours. Part 2 probably flows better as a program from start to finish, because this time I knew what I was doing from the start.
As a production note, you need to be your own cameraman & director to do this. This is about being totally responsible for sound, lighting & your appearance. After the performance is captured, you must upload it to a computer & get it online with everything labeled & thumb-nailed correctly. Then marketing & promotion… Don’t worry, I couldn’t do it all at first either.
For me the performances are the easy part. This time it’s mostly my songs, with only three covers out of the fifteen songs. This shows I can play either way, covers or originals, all night long while keeping it strong. Fugazi used to call it “throwing down.” It’s good to be able to throw down.
I intentionally featured songs that haven’t been made into official videos already. Therefore songs like “Talented”, “Sugarcoat”, “Ridiculous”, “DDSeuss”, “Sun-Wind-Bird”, etc., aren’t covered here. Perhaps if/when I do Part 3. The format is the same, with the video posted above, followed by a description below.
“Self Made” is one of the first songs I ever wrote. When you start songwriting in the rock genre, you’re going for 3-minute rockers & anthems. I throw in a Modern Lovers “Roadrunner” lick at the end in that spirit.
“Problem Solved” is a favorite for women. TomP & I never did any videos for Hwy 19 & Main St, so I’m glad to get this song officially up on YouTube. We were too busy doing Fully Covered.
“Just Because” has a much different feel on Electrified!, with the extra vocals. Here it’s pretty much a straight blues-boogie number, with my lyrical twists.
“You are my Brother” was inspired by the owner of Elijah’s café in Eustis, which doesn’t exist anymore. Back when I had my own dental practice, which also doesn’t exist anymore, I ate there frequently. Elijah would say to me, “You are my brother,” and then he would serve me his delicious food. Absolutely.
“Atheist Psalm” is an ambitious song, from an ambitious album. I deliver it about as well as I can here. People have strong feelings about this one, so I never played it to a live audience. But if provoked, I would have.
The full title to this song is “Crime in the City (Sixty to Zero Part I).” Neil Young was re-energized in the late-1980’s by grunge & alternative, and Freedom was a huge artistic comeback for him. This song is never played on the radio, or covered, but I say it’s the best song on this record. Rust Never Sleeps is my favorite Neil Young album.
“Weird Ideas” is one of my favorite Hwy 19 songs. I played it a few times live at a place called Norm’s in Mount Dora back at that time, and the yuppie audience would go blank on it. But the riff, which I stole from A Tribe Called Quest, gets in you head.
“Rolling Stoned” is always a crowd favorite. Understand that my live crowds consisted mostly of baby boomer classic rockers. My friend & colleague Bill Pelick ran an open-mic jam at a place called Pug’s in Eustis for years. It’s no longer there, but Bill would let me come out whenever I wanted and perform. I got three songs, and that was it. After a few times, I was well-known, so I started trying crazy new stuff like “DDSeuss” & “Haters Step Aside” on them. “Rolling Stoned” always got huge applause from an old-timer audience that typically sneers at originals.
“Working Class” is one of my favorite early songs. It’s tight, with punch, and this is a strong version, save for the fluff at the beginning of the guitar solo. I guess that proves this is really difficult, and the trick is making it look easy.
Being from Wisconsin, I’ve seen the BoDeans live three times, more than any other ‘name band’. “Dreams” was their big single from their second record, but this is from their first album, which are both Americana classics. Other famous Milwaukee bands include the Violent Femmes & Die Kreuzen.
“Anna Rex” is another song that obviously appeals to women. This may be the best song on Electrified!, with the talent we had on it. Here I have to use a slide to simulate Jessica Lynn Martens violin effect.
“The Birth of Song” is one of my favorites from Over & Out. It’s economical & elegant, like this description.
“Obvious” is one of my favorite early rockers from Magnified. I was thinking specifically of the Counting Crows, Hootie & the Blowfish, Dead-Eye Dick (who was being payola promoted on Orlando radio at the time), etc, when I wrote this song.
“Moneybug” is a riff copped from Wire’s “Straight Line.” I had a lot of help with this tight rocker on Electrified! Jessica Lynn Martens on violin & backing vocals. Craig Roy came up with a great bass line, and Tom Pearce hit the beats & then produced it. This is one I re-worked the lyrics on a lot over the years, so I don’t remember them completely here, because I haven’t played it in awhile. I don’t practice much anymore, I just play. That’s how it goes.
This is the first artist I’m repeating on my covers. On Fully Covered, I did “Down Payment Blues.” This one is also from Powerage, which along with Dirty Deeds, is my favorite AC/DC record. Bon & Malcolm are gone, so here’s the best version I can do.
Here’s my new cover album, self-recorded at home on an Amazon Fire. This is going to be the new (& live) music delivery model for awhile, so of course I’m leading the way. That’s what it means to be a revolutionary artist.
These videos are listed in the order they were recorded, with publishing info on YouTube. One general performance note: I wear sunglasses because these aren’t my songs. It’s impossible to sing someone else’s song completely honestly, hence the dark shades when I do covers for the camera. Each video is presented, followed with a blurb.
I loved this song since high-school, even though I didn’t know what it meant. This is the single from their debut album, released in 1969. Mott the Hoople was a deep band, and are have always been disrespectfully under-represented by classic-rock radio. My style is to keep it simple, so I cut out a lot of the jamming. BTW, if I’m doing MTH covers, then I can’t be credibly accused of anti-gay bias.
It’s really hard to do Eddie & Dave well, but this is a good try, I say. No way I can do Eddie’s guitar wizardry, so I play it as a simple blues number. I mess up the intro, and start again, but who cares– right? David Lee Roth was a genius in so many ways, as this song really isn’t about ice cream. Van Halen through 1984 were the greatest rock super-group ever. If you don’t cover them, then you don’t rock.
This is a really difficult song to barre on guitar and sing as a man, so I shortened it where I could. Being able to mimic the electronica feel is the tricky part. I really loved this song from the first time I heard it. It’s also the first song I ever downloaded on Napster. The rest of the CD wasn’t up to par for the $20 it cost (IMO), and 45 singles weren’t available anymore. That’s how Napster changed the internet back then. Getting back to Madonna, anyone who can get “zephyr” into meaningful song lyrics, is a artistic genius. Take that from someone who knows. I’ve gone toe-to-toe with Madonna on Facebook for a long time now, so I’m paying her my respect. Love
Final production note: This was the only song I recorded with a fan blowing on me. Like I already said, it’s an electronica-type song, so I thought I’d experiment with an electronic device. It mostly kept me cool, so I could sustain the vibe. Anyways, that’s the slight difference in fidelity from all the rest.
Remember when I said this was a cover album? I lied. I took the sunglasses off to perform this song is about payola. “P2P” is fun for me to play live (whenever I can get a show), observing so many blank expressions in the audience. You either get it, or you don’t. I ham it up a bit here, so you can get it easily. This is a punk-pop song.
I reviewed this album here already. This was their MTV single, and every female singer-songwriter today should know & play it. Tanya Donelly uses an androgynous voice in this song, so it’s fairly do-able for men. See & hear more my link.
Liz Phair was the musical girlfriend all us lonely college guys could listen to, back around Exile in Guyville. I’ve listened to her CD hundreds of times. Somewhere around this song, running through “Canary” & “Mesmerizing,” it becomes sublime. This is another songwriter every woman (& man) with a guitar & voice needs to respect. Otherwise you’re fake.
“Kararak” is from Electrified! The riff was copped from “The Ballad of the Green Berets,” with the lyrics turned around.
“Haters Step Aside” is from Hwy 19 & Main St. I’ve done it live a few times, and it always works great. Sometime the club pulls the plug on me before I can get to it, so here it is forever.
Fugazi was perhaps the tightest punk band ever. They were masters of songwriting, sound, production & packaging. I blogged about them here.
“Tubthumping” is a great single, so I have it in my covers playbook. It’s party, as well as defiance. Chumbawumba was much more than a one-hit wonder. They also do a version of “Hanging on the Old Barbed Wire,” which I cover below.
This is from Over & Out, and I’ve thumb-nailed an image from the liner notes. I try to do this as a beer drinking sing-along, so feel free to yell out when cued. I’ve always thought this was a catchy novelty song, so I’m resurrecting it here.
“Millennial Whoop” is our latest single, as Tom Pearce & I extensively collaborated on this one. I delivered the song, while TomP produced the hell out of it. Rachel Decker is the vocalist. We were going for a Beastie Boys feel, if you can dig it. Here, I strip everything away and give you a rap song straight on guitar & vocals.
“Hanging on the Old Barbed Wire” is a soldiers’ song from WWI, so it is public domain. It’s only four verses, but very powerful in it’s economy & accuracy.
This is my favorite Tom Waits song, from my favorite Tom Waits album. You really need sunglasses (& a capo) for a song like this, because there is no way you can completely get to Waits’ abstractions. That’s the kind of artist he is. Someone who relates, but is also unknowable.
There was a time when the only way you were going to hear the Sex Pistols was to go to the record store and buy the album. I remember when I did and put on side 1, and then “Holidays in the Sun” exploded out. “EMI” is the closing track to their classic debut, which never lets up.
I felt obliged to do this song. Woody Guthrie was perhaps the original singer-songwriter. Bob Dylan & Bruce Springsteen also have moving versions of this classic. Everyone from Neil Young to John Fogerty were deeply influenced by Woody Guthrie.
I will end when I began, with “Primary Colors.” The coronavirus concert encore is my latest anthem, recorded & published on March 20, 2020. I believe it caps the show off nicely, delivering a compelling new song for the times.
Program notes: All this was performed & put together in 3 days, from March 20-22, 2020. I never left my home to do any of it. Now that “quarantine” & “social distancing” have entered our lexicon, these performances prove that meaningful music can still be delivered to people everywhere. What it takes is talent & heart.
Intro: Tom Pearce & I have a deal. When it’s either of our turns to go to work, that person has full control. Tom Pearce has attracted attention within the music industry as a respected producer & electronica artist. Through his new affiliation we have a new distro deal that offers us great penetration into the music business.
We have set an official release date for “Millennial Whoop” at 11/26. This song is a monster crossover single, so we’re doing everything we can to get it as much distribution as possible. “Millennial Whoop” is the first single from the 4-song mini-album: Extended Play 2019.
Note, November 27, 2019 is when this song will be available on all the major streaming services including: Spotify, iTunes, Pandora, etc… “Millennial Whoop” can be downloaded here & now for FREE, because we’re about the fans. Share it if you love it, and let the new-release, underground buzz begin!!
I’ve never done a rap/pop song to this extreme, so this was fun. A year ago, Tom sent me a YouTube link on this phenomenon in modern pop music production. Patrick Metzger coined the phrase a few years earlier in a study he published, which is now well-known & cited. Months later after learning about this, I was out and recognized it on someone’s cranked-up car speakers as they drove by, and starting singing my own improvised chorus back to them on the spot.
Millennial Whoop official video (YouTube): Coming soon!
I consider this song to be partly a public service announcement, as well as a punk cross-over single. References include: Woody Guthrie, The Sound of Music (1965), Kelly Clarkson, Coca-Cola, square dancing call-outs, Donald Trump’s aversion to people coughing, The Birdcage (1996) & Basic Instinct (1992). I ‘baby’ it up a lot, which is my hybrid of Barry White & Justin Bieber. We had a real good time together.
Rachel Decker: vocals
Tom Pearce: beats & tones
Bill Pelick: bass
Written, published, & copyrighted by Ric Size; No Cliché Songs / Infinitelink Records 2019
Produced by Tom Pearce / Last Minute Production
We are currently about two decades into the “noise wars,” which is defined as excessive compression to make songs louder for cheap mobile headphones. Car commercials which blast non-stop, louder than the rest, is the comparative to the “noise wars” in television audio production. The only way an independent artist can compete against this degradation of music is by having better songs, and knowing how to record & produce them.
As the 2010’s close out, this is a review of all my albums and their songs. When people ask me, “What is your best song?” I reply, “I have a lot a great songs, go to Spotify, et al, and pick a title that looks interesting.” Then people ask me, “What are your best songs?” That’s tough again, because I feel I can easily fill any top-10 (20, 30…) list with songs that no one in my era can beat. My personal top-3 are “Ridiculous”, “Anna Rex”, and whatever other song you love. I have a lot of amazing songs. Much depends on what you prefer.
I was really excited, and very naive, when I finally released my debut album Magnified in January 2012. It was really fun to record with Jay Stanley, who is a songwriter, turned producer. He had a great studio on the 2nd floor of his house in Ocoee, Florida. It was separated from everybody else, which allowed us to work well together without interruptions in the summer & fall of 2011.
I would come in with my songs, and we would usually record 2 per two-hour session. I laid down the guitars, vocals, bass and harmonica– in that order. Jay would loop the rhythm guitars & bass to keep it tight to the click track. Then Jay would drop in beats electronically, as I would monitor & make suggestions. I’ve said it before– in many ways this is a rock-electronica album. I did the beats (mostly looped) on “Mercury Rising,” and the hi-hat on “Pay to Play.” The rest were done by Jay, and I feel he was very creative with them.
The biggest limitation of this album is in its production. Jay Stanley isn’t a professional producer, which is a skill that takes decades to master. He has the passion for music, which can get you a long ways, but there’s a lot of harshness of sound & distortion clipping on Magnified. I wanted that punk, trebly edge, but there’s too much in hindsight– IMO.
There’s also very little bass, which is under-mixed, and a common error among under-experienced producers. There’s a lot of wash in the sound, but I accepted that knowing I played everything, and that much of it was looped. For a debut album, this is a 4.5 star effort on the 5-star album scale. Every song is an anthem, and it’s delivered on time. It was a lot of fun to make, and nothing else from 2012 sounds anything like this underground classic. I dubbed it revolution rock, and established this site with the help of webmaster Tom Pearce to promote the record.
I wanted better sound separations, and more live playing for my follow-up album. I went back to Jay Stanley in the summer of 2013, who had by then moved his residence (and home studio) to Apopka. I was to be among his first clients in this new studio, which is a suburb garage converted into a music studio. The acoustics and sound-proofing were problematic from the start.
This is when I brought in Tom Pearce to be my drummer. Tom is a professional musician and sound savant. He immediately began making me aware of issues with the recordings. I intended Electrified to be my best album, and as Tom began to challenge my conceptions of what this album could sound like, I began to butt heads with Jay. There was one time where Jay’s needy girlfriend busted in on our session (again), and Jay flipped out. He left the control room in anger, then came back and said to me, “The session is over.” I had been there for 20 minutes.
I packed up & left, stopping at the first gas station to relax and gain my composure, when Jay texted me that I could come back, and that the issue was his girlfriend is an alcoholic. I went back in a mood, pulled out my Stratocaster and told Jay to record. It was the guitar riff to “Brothers.” I remember singing those sobering lyrics to him in the soundbooth. That’s an example of the intensity level throughout the recording of Electrified.
I also brought in videographer Susan Cameron to film a studio session, and it was inserted into my attempt at a documentary movie of the same title. There was a lot going on, for sure. By autumn all the songs had been tracked (except for Rachel’s vocals), and I asked Jay to do a rough mix-down. I was asking him to impress me, but he didn’t. It was at that point I asked for a copy of all the tracks to Electrified. Jay wasn’t happy about it, as anyone would be, but to his credit he acquiesced and put the tracks on an external hard drive. From this point, onward, everything I have recorded has been produced by Tom Pearce.
As mentioned, I made an attempt at a feature length motion picture. Electrified! the movie died in the rough cut phase because: 1) no more money, and 2) creative differences between myself & Susan Cameron– my partner on the project. I financed the project, and she was underpaid for sure. Susan Cameron was an amazing inspiration to this film, and we patched it together in a little over a year– using entirely local talent.
All it needed was some production polish & final editing, but when I introduced the “Marxist lecture” portions of the film (near the end of shooting), she suddenly lost interest. By January 2014, local businesses & influencers had gotten wind of Ric Size, so they threw a bunch of money at her to do their overblown projects while abandoning the film. That’s my version of what happened. I’m not bitter, just disappointed.
When it came to forming a list of potential promotional partners (sponsors) for the film, Sue kept suggesting Bill Maher, et al. I kept insisting it could only be a revolutionary superstar artist, such as Madonna or Brian Eno. Sue is a liberal Democrat producer, and I ‘m a Trotskyist artist with creative control. In the end we did amazingly well to get that far into production (~98% finished) before breaking up. It’s still a powerful film, and the original soundtrack is all Jay Stanley mixed.
Orson Welles was asked near the end of his life at a press conference, “What is the best part of making movies?” A once-again defeated Orson Welles candidly replied, “When you know the money is in the bank.” Don’t attempt to make a film, unless all the money is there to finish & distribute it. That’s a hard lesson.
Tom had to transfer the digital files out of ProTools (Apple), and convert them into PC format so he could use Studio One, which is the software he decided upon. It has been a great choice, as it records very clean, and I am doubly happy because I paid for all this.
ProTools mucks-up the recorded sound with its built in effects. ProTools is the “industry standard,” but it’s also why so much of today’s music sounds the same. Many serious musicians have moved away from ProTools in the past few years for the same reason. Tom & I have been leaders in this movement towards better sound quality & the return of dynamics.
There were many tracks on Electrified that had to be re-recorded after my split with Jay Stanley, due to poor or faulty microphoning, especially on the drum kit. Tom used his own snare, but the rest was Jay’s in-house kit, which was mic-ed by at least 8-10 microphones. Some worked, and some didn’t. Lots of spillage, etc. There were 30-40 tracks for each song, due to this style of microphoning, along with digitally duplicated tracks. Many were just empty air.
Once again, this isn’t good professional technique, and I want people to understand how much work it was for Tom Pearce to wade through all this jumble, and piece this album back together. This was also very frustrating for the songwriter, as I knew these were great songs, but the studio engineer/producer kept dropping the ball and making me look bad, when he’s supposed to be covering my mistakes and making me sound good. Like I said, there’s lots of tension on this album, but in the end it was worth it. I thank Jay Stanley for giving me what he could. At least he was willing to “go there” with me, which no one else would do. It takes balls.
The biggest improvement on Electrified are the professional musicians & producer. The song quality is roughly equal to Magnified, perhaps a bit better. Tom’s live drumming shows up instantly in “Spirit of the Road” and is an essential element to this 5-star classic. There is (again) not a bad song on this album, and I’m pushing every button. I’ve got what sounds like a backing band, but in reality, are supremely artistic musicians helping out. Electrified may be the best rock album of the past 25 years or so. I know I haven’t heard anything better, or even close to it. If you have a suggestion I’d love to hear it.
Craig Roy did all his bass in two sessions– Anna Rex, Old Friends, Tip of the Cap, Listen to the Woman, Brothers, Moneybug & More Like Us. Bill Pelick did his guitars & bass (Tip of the Cap & Just Because) in one session. Jessica Lynn Martens did her violin & vocals (Anna Rex, Old Friends & Moneybug) in one quickie session. Rachel Decker did her vocals twice, because Tom accidentally erased her initial session for “Listen to the Woman.” That’s kinda how it went.
The biggest blunder I made with Electrified was the cover. I already had the image, which is shown above as Tom & I playing live in Apopka in summer 2012. The photo was taken by Laura Rivera, my ex-step daughter. But I eventually switched the cover to a black & white screenshot from the movie, as a promotional tie-in. Big mistake, as the movie was never finished, and the live image is better. Tom says he wants to re-mix & re-master Electrified, and when he does, Laura’s live photo will be the cover.
Tom worked on producing this record, night & day, for nearly two years. He had finally opened up a watch repair shop of his own in a tin shack at the corner of Highway 19 & Main St in Tavares, FL and set to work on producing when things got slow– which they mostly were.
When he finally finished production and put Electrified online in October 2015, he then asked me with a smile, “What’s next?” I told him I wanted to make a “Beefheart record.” Tom instinctively understood what this meant, and so he closed the watch shop for a few hot afternoons in October-November. We recorded six songs live in the makeshift studio he had built. I had taken up the slide by this point, as it was apparent I was never going to find a stable backing band for live shows. A slide adds an element of attack and sound separation to guitar playing. A solo performer can use this effect to stand out.
We recorded “Haters, Step Aside”, “Rolling Stoned”, “Problem Solved” and the rest in two sessions, I took the album art pictures immediately after the final session, and TomP shot me while I was playing. Tom recommended the title, the format of me playing solo, and doing it as an EP. Today, Highway 19 & Main St already stands as one of the best rock EP’s ever. Tom & I both like this record better than Electrified, because it’s recorded live and we were having fun.
We then recorded 16 covers for what I titled Fully Covered, but never released officially, because of licensing rights. Fully Covered was only released on YouTube and linked through this page on my site in November-December 2016 & January 2017, with videos for every song. I provided most of the content, and TomP put the images together to produce the videos.
YouTube has brutally censored my content, so this project hasn’t been allowed to receive the distribution it deserves. We’ll eventually release Hwy 19/Fully Covered on a single CD. Honestly, I don’t believe any solo performer can do these types of covers as well as I do, so everything that Tom & I recorded in this tin shack is a 5-star classic.
After these landmark underground albums were released in rapid-fire succession, I focused on blogging, as no touring or live performance opportunities were available to me. My influential blogging career began in earnest in 2016, and has continued up to the present, as there are still no live performance opportunities for me.
I was sent an eviction notice in the spring of 2017, and had to move from my Mount Dora apartment by July. Before I left, I told Tom I wanted to record my last batch of songs. I wanted to make sure this final album would get made, as I wasn’t sure where I was moving to, and if I would be able to record with Tom after I had moved.
Over & Out was released that summer, and was somewhat a rush job, as everything except “Yes/No Wave” was recorded in one session that May. Tom brought his recording rig to my apartment, and was experimenting with different techniques, which is why some of the recordings sound a bit different. If you really listen to this album, you realize how intense & serious these thoughts are. To keep them in one’s head indefinitely can only lead to frustration & insanity. That was my motivation to get this record done, and for its title.
This was another solo, acoustic record. Tom added beats & effects to “Up Around the Clock” & “Many Miles.” We now have a rehearsal recording of “Up Around the Clock,” with Tom on drums & Bill on bass from fall 2018, and maybe someday we’ll release it, as it’s surely better than the album version. The song I really don’t like on Over & Out is “Waves,” as I had issues with my capo, which I rarely use. The songs on Over & Out are strong, but could have used some help from other musicians in certain areas. I rate this as a 4-star record, as the best songs are really strong and it does hold together, but could have been better.
One of the hardest things to do as an artist is to let go. Once an album is done & released, it’s not yours anymore. It now belongs to everybody who listens, and it’s what they think that counts– especially the kids. I’ve spent a lot of time here, nitpicking at my work, which is what you have to do to be a honest critic of yourself. It’s not easy, and definitely not fun, but it’s necessary– since it is the only way you can control your narrative. If you don’t do this, then someone else will, and they may promote a version you don’t approve.
I really did think I was finished with music after Over & Out, but somehow a few new songs crept into my head and wouldn’t leave me alone, so by late 2018, I had informed Tom of my intention to record a new single– at least. This morphed into a 4-song EP which is currently in production.
I think Extended Play 2019 will be the best batch yet. The songs are strong, and the playing & production have overwhelming technique– it’s remarkable. It’s a lot more fun this time, because I have great help everywhere. It’s easier to do now, but that’s only because of all the challenging experiences I’ve had in the past. Actually it’s never easy making art. It’s fulfilling, but always challenging. Making it look easy is the genius part.
Final Critique: What TomP & I have accomplished, with a little help from our friends, is nothing less than revolutionary. How many rock artists are considered as a serious political leader & theorist? None, until I came along. This has opened up new artistic fields for musicians, as blogging has become THE influential underground internet journalism format. Now everyone makes their own movies and uploads them to YouTube. I still say Electrified! is the best of the bunch, and deserves a sponsor to produce & distribute it.
The fact is that even the best songwriters can’t write a really great song every day, week or even month. Artists can fill that creative void in music, by reading & analyzing world events in all fields: economics, politics, sports, art, science, literature & pop culture. That was never possible before the internet & social media. What the persona of Ric Size did was show everyone how to do it. I got essays, mp3s, pics, videos & a movie. That’s hard to beat, especially considering it’s all DIY and in the establishment’s face. Imagine if I had some real money to work with…
When it comes to “Artist of the Decade,” it isn’t close. No one has been the artist I have been in this era. No one has been more influential in revolutionary politics & youth pop culture. That’s why I am blacklisted. So I will never appear on any mainstream lists of this “decade’s best.” The further reality is that 2nd place isn’t even close, and that really can’t be acknowledged. That’s the current impasse with me not being critically acclaimed. It’s the power of art.
“Critical acclaim” is a nebulous topic in entertainment, by design. Music, film, theater, etc is meant to entertain, and it’s a business first. Never forget that. Anything beyond this is considered a bonus for fans, but often a negative for the industry. When entertainment becomes art, it educates & electrifies the masses, which is something the establishment always seeks to contain. These are the ideological (political) issues which determine access to art.
Critical acclaim is used as an instrument to manipulate public opinion on art. When an artist is blacklisted, such as the Velvet Underground (Andy Warhol) were in the 1960’s, their records don’t sell. When their catalog becomes unavailable in the 1970’s, they become “critical darlings”– because no one else can hear their music, so critics get a monopoly of opinion. It’s about who controls the narrative. Censored artists also have a hard time touring in any era, due to few good opportunities & low pay. It’s a grind, and it’s the reason brilliant bands like the VU break-up the way they did.
Captain Beefheart is another example of an artist who was censored & undercut by the industry, because he was too far ahead of his time. Beefheart was branded “critically acclaimed” with Trout Mask Replica (1969), and that label unfortunately stuck. If revolutionary artists such as the VU, Beefheart, the Stooges, Graham Parker, Wire, the Minutemen, Husker Du, Sonic Youth, Bikini Kill, et al, are never played on classic rock radio (or any other industry-defined format), then how are music fans supposed to find their music?
Where’s the critics’ support for getting these artists on FM radio, so we can randomly listen to them in our vehicles? This “critic support” doesn’t exist, because “critical acclaim” is a fraud. For decades, the music industry had a stranglehold: payola for radio promotion; distribution through record/CD stores & touring for sales; Rolling Stone magazine, et al for media publicity– meaning favorable critical opinion of established major-label performers.
If you weren’t “plugged in” to that network machinery, then you couldn’t exert much influence, or get paid. The significance of the grunge movement (late 1980’s/early 1990’s) was that college radio stations & indie record labels became an influential force outside of industry control. By the late 1990’s, reaction had set in, and nearly all the college stations & indie labels had been bought-up & corporatized.
This is why the internet rules today, because it democratized music availability– when Napster came along. YouTube & Facebook are social media platforms which exchange content & ideas, and despite the worst efforts of corporate ownership to manipulate users with AI & algorithms, it’s now impossible to keep revolutionary music from reaching listeners– young & old. If you want to find something you will, and that wasn’t always the case.
This is why these “critically acclaimed” (ie- suppressed) artists are now finding greater audiences. Being “critically acclaimed” has always been a fallacy, because it’s the critics who most fear & hate revolution, as it threatens their comfy & lazy pencil-pushing existence. When their “expertise” is called into question, there’s nothing left but blabber & smoke. If these phonies are exposed, they may be forced to get a real job, and they don’t want to do that.
A “critically acclaimed” artist has precisely half the weight of critical opinion in support, and the other half hating. This means everything washes out to a net zero in total impact. Who do you believe as a reader, the positive or negative critic? Comparing critical opinions often comes down to who is the better writer, or worse, who is more powerful in the industry. The problem, of course, is the better (or more powerful) author may be prejudiced. If this person becomes editor, he/she controls the flow of many opinions.
If fact, “critical acclaim” is given more generously to those with little-to-no talent, for the opposite effect, but same purpose. This is the hyped garbage which is elevated by the media, and is meant to replace art. Armies of establishment critics universally praise this gobbledygook when solicited by their paymasters. They must, it’s what pays the bills.
These days the industry prefers to produce its superstars, instead of letting them happen out-of-the-blue, which is why Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, et al dominate the teen music market. These mega-stars are created (and then re-created) by the industry machinery, and rely on it to sustain their success, which makes all of them easy to control. It’s a long way from John Lennon & Mick Jagger, for sure.
Critics pose as experts by using their learned knowledge of human experience, to consolidate bourgeois opinions on art & pop culture through the media. Take jazz music for example. You can’t be a respected critic in this field, unless you bow down to certain sacred cows– Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, et al. As a critic, you have lists of all sorts in your head; best songs, albums, players, genres, eras, and so forth. These critics are always ready to pounce on any heresy, with pre-formed sound-bites & arguments. These are the sort of fakers which real artists & serious listeners despise.
But to stick with this example in jazz, let’s say something fresh & revolutionary hits, from an unknown artist, which merits that level of reverence. Will that work be immediately recognized as genius by the critics, on the same level as these acknowledged masters? Not a chance. You see, these experienced critics “know” that no one can be that good anymore, so this can’t be a genius of that order.
That is every establishment critic’s “thought process.” The kids & music freaks LOVE this new prodigy, and share it with everybody. The critics will certainly notice this, because true critical opinion comes from the kids; but the critics will not acknowledge it, or at best be cold & demeaning towards it, because it replaces sacred idols. Their lists are set in stone.
If this new artist is indeed the real thing, then the work will hold up, which means more underground fans, but still no mainstream critical acknowledgement, much less praise. What happens over time is that critical opinion changes, as new critics join the field, as long-standing fans of that artist. At this point, the artist is now “critically acclaimed,” despite the fact that 99+% of their support comes from fans.
Conclusion: If you approach art with the goal of pleasing the critics, then you are on a path towards failure. Most critics don’t care, they only pretend to care using sophistry. There is very little passion for art with critics. But it’s that passion which keeps us young, which connects artists to the kids. Nowhere in this equation is the critic helpful, unless they approach art with historical experience & an open mind.
Music as art is all about the artists & the kids. Once the kids are hooked, they become fans for life. My goal as an artist is to reach everybody, but the kids are always first. Are the kids going to like this? Does this send the right message? These are the questions real artists grapple with during the creative process.