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One of the things that are wrong with me August 2, 2009

Posted by caveblogem in Other, Rock.
3 comments

It is a time of transition for me (as Warren Susman once wrote, “It’s always a time of transition”). I’m finishing up my second-to-last class today, and last night I was listening to the radio (all night) and reflecting upon early influences on my way of viewing relationships–the stuff that crept (slithered?) into my head during my formative years, circa 1980.

For those of you who were not there, or don’t remember, this was the time when in the suburban US, there were at least two bands whose music was ubiquitous to the point where, for a teenager, it was unavoidable: Journey, and REO Speedwagon.  There were good things, musically, about that time period; they are not the subject of this post.

The subject of this post is the way that the music you listen to (or even hear) shapes you in ridiculous ways. I’m going to paraphrase these two examples from REO Speedwagon so that I don’t ruin any young lives through exposure to the actual lyrics.

Take away the sappy music and here’s the basic message of “Take It On The Run” (from Hi Infidelity, 1980, for those of you who wish to play along at home):

I heard a rumor from someone (let’s face it, one of our local liars) via a process similar to the game “Telephone,” that you are cheating on me.  I believe wholeheartedly and completely that it’s not true.  But if you go out tonight it is over between us–frickin’ over.

And the basic message of “Keep On Loving You” (from Hi Infidelity, 1980):

Look, I tried to tell you that I’ll love you for ever, but you were cold and hissed at me like some kind of snake and basically ignored me.  But really, I’ll love you forever, you cold, evasive snake.

As someone who was a scholar of American Culture in a previous lifetime, I could drone on and on about the function of contradictory messages in blues and pop music, and the necessity to appeal to different audiences within the same song, hidden meanings, blah blah blah.  But I won’t.  All I’m going to say is WTF? WTF—ing F?

I’m sorry I’m so screwed up, hon.  I really am.  I am trying to get over these early psychotic influences.  Maybe we all are.

And I don’t know why this post is in such tiny letters, if that’s the way it looks published.  I can’t figure out how to fix it, if it needs fixing.  Oh, I could tweak the html, but I’m not getting paid for this, or course credit, for that matter, and there’s always the chance that, since I don’t know why it got small in the first place, if it is small, it might just revert to that state.

Today is my 19th wedding anniversary.  I got my wife a nice gift, but because we are both so busy right now, we’ll probably actually celebrate in a week or two.  But it is a time of transition for me (as Warren Susman once wrote, “It’s always a time of transition”) and I’m being reflective today about early influences on my way of viewing relationships acquired during my formative years circa 1980.

For those of you who were not there, or don’t remember, this was the time when in the suburban US, there were at least two bands whose music was ubiquitous to the point where, for a teenager, it was unavoidable: Journey, and REO Speedwagon.  There were good things, musically, about that time period, but they are not the subject of this post.

The subject of this post is the way that the music you listen to (or even hear) shapes you in ridiculous ways. I’m going to paraphrase these two examples from REO Speedwagon so that I don’t ruin any young lives through exposure to the actual lyrics.

Take away the sappy music and here’s the basic message of “Take It On The Run” (from Hi Infidelity, 1980, for those of you who wish to play along at home):

I heard a rumor from someone (let’s face it, one of our local liars) via a process similar to the game “Telephone,” that you are cheating on me.  I believe wholeheartedly and completely that it’s not true.  But if you go out tonight it is over between us–frickin’ over.

And the basic message of “Keep On Loving You” (from Hi Infidelity, 1980):

Look, I tried to tell you that I’ll love you for ever, but you were cold and hissed at me like some kind of snake and basically ignored me.  But really, I’ll love you forever, you cold, evasive snake.

As someone who was a scholar of American Culture in a previous lifetime, I could drone on and on about the function of contradictory messages in blues and pop music, and the necessity to appeal to different audiences within the same song, hidden meanings, blah blah blah.  But I won’t.  All I’m going to say is WTF? WTF—ing F?

I’m sorry I’m so screwed up, hon.  I really am.  I am trying to get over these early psychotic influences.  Maybe we all are. Happy Anniversary!

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K.F. Gallagher Writing Contest July 9, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in blogs, fiction, Other, Rock, writing.
3 comments

Kaitlyn has started a writing contest with a prompt from an old Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song.

I love Tom Petty. I recall quite vividly the only time I ever saw him in concert. Even though it was twenty-three years ago I can remember it almost like it was yesterday (which is often pretty hazy for me). One of the opening acts was Men at Work, that flash-in-the-pan Australian group. They put on a very nice show, but the crowd was not treating them very well. Some guy down near the front kept pelting the lead singer with chips of ice, and eventually he began to threaten the audience member with bodily harm. Many of us (some 30,00 people or more) were hoping that this Aussie would dive down into the crowd and rip the asshole’s head off.

But when Tom and his band took the stage they owned the crowd. The music was perfect. The atmosphere was perfect. It was amazing. If anybody threw ice at Tom the whole crowd would have decended upon the assailant and tore him to shreds, I think. At one point, Tom was just walking around holding a bottle of beer. I think it was during an extended introduction to “Breakdown.” Tom eventually gave his beer to someone in the crowd. You would have thought he had knighted somebody, from the reaction.

When we were driving back down to the valley after the concert (which was in the Sierra Nevada foothills) we sang every song we could think of in that Pettty-ish nasal whine (although we probably sounded more like Bob Dylan than Tom Petty). What a day.

Anyway, I have an idea for a story, which is something I haven’t had for a while, and I’m in. So stop by Kaitlyn’s blog, check out the rules and join me, allright?

Once upon a time April 24, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in Other, Rock, Science Fiction.
2 comments

My son, Hoops (yes, I’ve finally decided to give people at least a pseudonym for him.  It is short for Hoopenslaaga, which is what my Mom called him when she saw him for the first time.  Her Scandinavian Grandmother {if I remember the story correctly and if I may insert braces inside of parantheses like this} used the word to refer to particularly large farm animals.  I would render the word phonetically if I had the time and the HTML skill to do so), asked to listen to Pearl Jam this morning on the way to school.  All I had in the car was Ten, which is a pretty good album, and the album that introduced me to the band, so I stuck it in the cd player. 

Like many Pearl Jam albums Ten starts out with a short little snippet of sound effects and music.  I noticed this morning that the sound effects were very similar to those in the opening of Ultraman, so I told him that.  When the next song, “Once,” started, he tried to impersonate Eddie Vedder’s voice, yelling “He’s our hero Ultraman!” 

It was pretty funny.  But the lyrics to that one seem to resonate with Hayata (whose character on the show is fused with Ultraman and can become Ultraman by using his “beta capsule.”)

I admit it. What’s to say?
I’ll relive it without pain.
Back street lover on the side of the road.
I got a bomb in my temple that is gonna explode.
I got a sixteen gauge buried under my clothes. I play.

Once upon a time I could control myself.
Ooh, once upon a time I could lose myself.

It’s like Hayata finally, after the ability to become Ultraman has left him (which apparently happens in the final episode of the series) comes face to face with his own bifurcated and dangerous existence. 

That or I’m reading to much into both.  It was funny anyway. . . .

Another Comment on Comments March 30, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in Blogs and Blogging, Other, Rock.
2 comments

I was driving my son to school and continuing our conversation on Rock music this morning.  We were listening to Only a Lad, by Oingo Boingo, one of his favorite songs [he’s nine years old and idolizes Bart Simpson, The Mythbusters, his uncle (who is into large hybrid rockets, industrial-sized fireworks, blowing things up, and sent my kid a do-it-yourself trebuchet kit for Christmas this year) and Calvin (of the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip)]. For those of you who don’t know it, the song starts like this:

Johnny was bad, even as a child everybody could tell
Everyone said if you don’t get straight
You’ll surely go to Hell

But Johnny didn’t care
He was an outlaw by the time that he was
Ten years old
He didn’t wanna do what he was told
Just a prankster, juvenile gangster

His teachers didn’t understand
They kicked him out of school
At a tender early age
Just because he didn’t want to learn things
(Had other interests)
He liked to burn things

I dropped him off and then listened to some more on the way to work and was in the process of composing a post about libertarian Ska bands of the 1980s (a shorter chapter in the school of rock posts) and I realized that I never told the story of how I got that particular Oingo Boingo album. 

I really wanted that album.  And my Mom found that out and sent it to me for Christmas, which was a little weird, because I didn’t have the slightest idea how she could have found out that I wanted it.  I had never mentioned it to her.  I hadn’t told anyone . . . except . . .  

Except I had mentioned in a comment on somebody else’s blog that I really wanted that album but didn’t have the cash to purchase it myself.  Mom googled me and found that gift idea in the comment thread.  Apparently I’m usually hard to buy for. 

Anyway, I thought I should let people know about this.  And I’ve been thinking about comments after my post yesterday.  And my birthday is coming up. . . .

What’s your theme song? February 22, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in Other, Philosophy, Rock.
12 comments

My wife recently read an article, Find Your Song (and Sing It), in Real Simple magazine (written by Gail Blanke) about the power of music to motivate.  And recent articles in some of the blogs that I read, notably Tales from the Reading Room and Hyperpat’s Hyperday, have discussed how integral music is to peoples’ lives.  So it got me thinking about this stuff. 

Blanke’s article was about the motivational power of having a “theme song.”  The idea being that when you really need to be excited about things and perky and seem energetic, it is a good idea to think about (or possibly hum or even sing) a song that will get your blood pumping.  So it got me thinking about how I don’t really have one of these. 

Earlier in this space I wrote about how I always have a song going through my head, and that it is a particularly monotonous tune.  It can be driven out of my head on a temporary basis by other songs.  Sometimes that’s a good thing; sometimes it’s not.  (My son and I will be watching some Speed Racer tonight, so I expect that the theme from that will occupy my thoughts far into the foreseeable future.) 

And I do listen to (or think about or hum or whistle or even sing) music to alter my thought patterns.  For a long time, on my way to the tennis courts, I would play in my car stereo the song “Burn, Don’t Freeze,” by Sleater-Kinney.  But it wasn’t to get pumped up.  I did it because keeping track of two simultaneous guitar parts and two simultaneous lead vocals drove every other thought from my head.  It was a sort of musical Zen thing.  But that’s not the sort of thing that Ms. Blanke was after, I think. 

Anyway, does anyone out there have such a song?  What is it?

Textbook for the School of Rock-Chapter II, Part B February 9, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in Education, history, Music, Other, Rock.
2 comments

Van Halen came to power in the late 1970s and the first few times I heard the band I was put-off by David Lee Roth’s trademark yodel-howl vocal stylings.  For those of you unfamiliar with this, simply finish each phrase on a rising note, reaching as quickly as possible the highest note your voicebox will accomodate.  Done by somebody like Roth, who could frighten the tiny forest animals from miles away, it was merely odd.  Done by legions of teens and tweens and 20-somethings since, it is flabbergasting.  For those with lower vocal registers every phrase sounds like a question?  It is good to have somebody to blame for this?  And I’m, like, happy that it is David Lee Roth?

After I got past Roth’s eccentricities I was confronted by a guitar sound that some people found difficult.  I don’t mean difficult to mimic, although it was.  (My good friend swore for years that Edward Van Halen’s unbridled velocity came from an effects box, the “echoplex.”  It was only upon seeing them in concert that I realized that he was striking the fretboard with fingers on his left hand and the index finger of his pick hand, enabling him to achive speed which could not be described with standard Italian musical notation. [On the sheet music for “Eruption,” for example, it didn’t say “Allegro,” or “adante,” or whatever.  It said in the upper-left hand corner “Play as fast as possible.”])  What I mean by difficult is this:

You are a sheltered, self-conscious, suburban teen at your first rock show.  Imagine row upon row of happy forest creatures of different sizes.  They have been selected for their ability to yowl in pain at specific frequencies corresponding, more or less, to the E-Blues scale.  There are little rabbits, field mice, shrews, and birdies for the high notes, muskrats, beavers, hedgehogs, tiny deer, all the way up to the low notes of the grizzly bears and the elk.  Suddenly you hear a rhythmic thudding noise.  Then someone fires up a chainsaw.  From the hills in the distance you hear anti-aircraft fire, coming closer.  Then a group of samurai descend upon the forest tableau, hacking them to bits with short swords, road flares, sporks, jack-hammers, and dental drills, as the stragglers are picked off by automatic weapon fire.  And someone with an odd voice is screaming and howling a song called “Running with the Devil.”  You know fear.  But the cool people next to you seem to be enjoying it, so you chill.

In time, of course, you get used to it, and come to love it, especially the songs where the guitar sound is like all of the cables on the Golden Gate Bridge rhythmically giving way, people, cars, eighteen-wheelers, the entire Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, plunging into the cold water, hundreds of feet below.  How could anyone resist?

I mentioned in the first part of this chapter that there were more ways of coming up with new music than copying songs that had already been performed by others.  Copying would have been easy for Van Halen, because their sound was (at the time) so distinctive, that anything they played would sound completely new.  But Edward also created new riffs and phrases by a second method, which goes like this:

  1. Improvise a solo as quickly as you can, or play a song you don’t know well.
  2. Listen very carefully to the mistakes that you make: remember them.
  3. Adapt those mistakes, turning them into songs and phrases.

Up until the mid 1980s Edward Van Halen used this method very creatively.  But he reached a point that he really should have seen coming, given the amount of time he spent practicing and playing, and his aptitude and talent.  Eventually he made so few mistakes that he ran into a writers block of sorts.  So he started playing keyboards, to free up his creative side, to make the kinds of mistakes that would generate new music.  Unfortunately, Edward and the band made a fatal mistake, they used the keyboards on their next album. 

Why was this a mistake?

It probably would not have been a mistake if “Jump” had not been a huge hit.  “Jump” made lots of people who were not cool at all say “hey, I like Van Halen.”  So Van Halen was no longer cool for rockers.  Which was a shame.  And “Jump” was just weak, dude.

Textbook for the School of Rock-Chapter II February 7, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in DIY, Education, fiction, history, how to, lifehack, Music, Other, postmodernism, Rock, writing.
16 comments

La propriété intellectuelle, c’est le vol!***

The above itself encapsulates a wealth of wisdom about the creative process.  I have stolen the famous words of anarchist Pierre Joseph Proudhon, and added a word.  Now they are my words–see how easy writing is?  Proudhon said “property is theft,” in French, cause he was French.  I have modified this to “intellectual property is theft,” which is the topic of today’s lesson.  Essentially what I mean is if you write (not just music) you steal, whether you realize it or not.  Intellectual property is based on theft of the ideas of others.

Some of the people who write music are more conscious of theft in the creative process than others.  I grew up near Sacramento, California, where in the late 1970s and early 1980s there was (and for all I know there still is) a local band, Steel Breeze, which had one nation-wide hit song.  In an interview with a local radio station the band described one of the ways in which they wrote music, which was basically this:

  1. They set up their instruments and got ready to play. 
  2. They put on an album made by some other band and played one of the songs.
  3. They turned on a tape recorder and attempted, more or less, to play the song that they had just heard.
  4. They spent a few hours attempting to make the song work.
  5. Then, eventually, they listened to original song again, the one that had sparked their horrible copy, to make sure that their song didn’t sound enough like it to be accused of stealing.
  6. If the new song was recognizably based on the old, they worked on it, making small changes, until it sounded new.

Some writers are not as candid about the creative process.  Kurt Cobain, I believe, was quite conscious of his own creative process.  I think that this is one of the reasons that he was paranoid about others catching on, so paranoid that he hid in a closet in his own home to write music.  I am not the only person to notice the similarities between Boston’s “More than a Feeling and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”** Both were hits.  The hooks are almost exactly the same.  Cobain had heard “More than a Feeling” dozens of times.  Was his copying conscious?  I think so, but I don’t think that this is a bad thing.  Indeed, I think that when this sort of thing is unconscious it can mislead people into all sorts of weird assumptions about human thought. 

So Steel Breeze was pretty conscious of their creative process.  And they never became millionaire superstars with platinum albums, but they did better than the majority of other bands in the world.  While outright, conscious theft is one way of being creative, there is another, which is the topic of the next part of Chapter II: happy accidents.

 To be continued . . .

*A proper discussion of anarchism will have to wait until the chapter, if there is one, on the Punk movement.  What I mean by “intellectual property is theft” is akin to Lucretius’s dictum “there is nothing new under the sun.”  Any time you think you are having an original thought, an inspired epiphany of some sort, what you are probably experiencing is more like this: two old thoughts which you have added together in a way similar to the ways in which you have seen many other ideas added together, but have forgotten that you saw these ideas somewhere else, and that adding them together is a pretty simple thing, after all.  

**See Malcolm Gladwell’s “Something Borrowed” in the November 22, 2004 issue of The New Yorker if you really need proof of this, or a lot of other examples.

***I have not yet read Jonathan Lethem’s article in this month’s Harpers.  Since it is basically a bunch of ideas stolen from others, like this post, what would be the point?  But I hear that it is interesting, so I link to it here.  Christopher Lydon’s Open Source is taping a show on this idea tonight, which has a comment thread running here.  So you could check that out, too. 

Textbook for the School of Rock-Pre-Assessment #1 February 1, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in Music, Other, Rock.
16 comments

Before we go on to Chapter II, it would be useful to gauge your knowledge about guitar players.  To take the pre-assessment click here

Your score doesn’t matter, really, unless you turn out to be Ted Nugent.  So be somewhat careful.

Results will not be made public unless you want them to be.

Textbook for the School of Rock-Chapter I, Section B January 31, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in history, Japan, Music, Other, postmodernism, Rock.
2 comments

So, what happened to Cheap Trick?

Well, Jimmy (if that is your real name), they put out another album in 1980 that was produced by George Martin, and then appeared on Saturday Night Live, and they did a concert that aired on PBS that rocked so hard I thought I would die.  I watched a videotape of that concert approximately 100 times, something like once every week for a couple of years.  If it hadn’t been on Betamax (ask your grandfather) I’d probably still be watching it. 

All Shook Up (1980) had a lot of really great music on it.  But better than that, the album captured the power and verisimilitude of the band’s stage presence (to the extent possible).  The album’s most famous track “Baby Loves to Rock” was almost punk, but without punk’s anger.  It was based on a firm power chord tripod that even novitiate rockers could play (without any moveable chord forms), Robin Zander’s inimitable howl, a bass sound like an oil tanker slowly running aground, interesting and sometimes cryptic lyrics.  And the album that came after that, One on One, was just as good.  

Unfortunately, it was too late for the band to achieve the kind of stardom they deserved.  They have since written and performed the theme music for dozens of movies, as well as for That 70s Show and The Colbert Report, but their bid for superstardom faltered.

Why? 

By 1980, Cheap Trick’s three disappointing studio albums of the late 1970s had made some of their most promising fans wary of being burned again.  Worse still, the band was simply one of a kind, and thus difficult to understand.  For example, the band was solidly connected, in popular imagination, to Japan, which was already, during the rapidly growing energy crisis years, becoming problematic. 

What do you mean?

Their most famous album began with the words “All Right Tokyo!” They did not look American enough, which was a crime during this era, when Americans were talking about energy independence and bombing Iran (I mean the last time we did this, of course.  I told you this was going to be confusing.)   Since the band didn’t look like anyone else, they must be Japanese, right? 

It was confusing.  Look, “Elo Kiddies” was a song off their first album that the Japanese schoolgirls seemed to really take to.  How this tune transmuted into the Hello Kitty phenomenon is a dark and frightening story that is not appropriate to tell here in this public space.  (N.B.: I was not able to link to Sanrio’s Hello Kitty, because it makes me ill to even think about doing that.  And I couldn’t use a picture, because it is trademarked, so the link goes to Hello Cthulhu, a cartoon that gives you the general idea of Hello Kitty from the appropriate perspective of ironic mockery.)  All I can do is point out the clash of the two cultures, the huge gulf between interpretive frames of reference.

Compare the song’s refrain . . .

So you missed some school,
they say school’s for fools,
today money rules,
and everybody steals it.
You lead a life of crime,
you gotta go unwind,
you haven’t got much time,
because they’re out to get you.

. . . to the Hello Kitty icon that began to appear about the same time.  Extra credit for any of you who can make even a tiny bit of sense out of that. 

They seemed to delight in confounding all of the dominant stereotypes of the era.  This was especially so in the case of lead guitarist Rick Nielsen, running around on stage wearing checkered tights and a baseball cap (hey, those Japanese are playing baseball now, too).  He looked, quite intentionally, like a cartoon character.  In contrast, Robin Zander, the lead singer, was attractive and graceful, an ex-dance instructor, with long, golden hair.  Then there was Bun E. Carlos, the band’s hard-rockin,’ chain-smokin’ drummer, who looked and dressed like a despirited, pot-bellied, balding, accounts receivable clerk.  The bassist was probably even more attractive than Zander.  It was just too large an interpretive disjuncture for the average rock fan to navigate.  

Conversation overheard in record store (Tower Records, Sunrise Blvd., Sacramento, California) between typical rocker and store employee, circa 1980:

“What does it all mean, record dude?” 
“I don’t know.”
“Oh.  Um, you got any Journey?”
“S’under “J.” [Points]
“Jay?  No, Journey.  Are you making fun of me?”

It was too easy to come to the conclusion the band was making fun of its audience.  That was a dangerous game, far too dangerous for the Reagan era, and one most simply avoided taking part in.

Textbook for the School of Rock-Chapter I January 30, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in history, Japan, Music, Other, Rock.
12 comments

Part A
Isn’t it a Shame?

During the Scientific Revolution, so-called “Natural Philosophers” often collected anomolies to help them understand the truth.  What could a two-headed sheep tell them about the natural world?*  It could tell them more, they figured, than looking at a thousand “normal” sheep, because it explored the limits of “sheepness.”  Figuring out why nature has gone awry helped them to figure out how it goes right.  We study the abnormal to examine the boundaries of normalcy.  For these reasons, this chapter examines Cheap Trick.

In the late 1970s Cheap Trick rocketed to stardom on the success of a live album that also predicted their downfall.  That album, Cheap Trick: Live at Budokan, was recorded in Tokyo, Japan, and kept the band on rock radio through the mid-1980s.  A string of hits including “I Want You to Want Me,” “Surrender,” and others should have tipped the band off to the secret of their success. 

What did the album’s success say about the band?  It said this: These guys know how to get an audience of Japanese schoolgirls cheering at a frequency about six octaves above middle “C.”  These guys know how to rock. 

How does one rock?

Well, there are lots of ways.  One is by working hard at being the best/loudest/fastest/strongest band you can be–being extreme.  Tom Petersson, the band’s bassist, had a twelve-string bass, the world’s first, specially constructed at around this time.  The company initially made him a ten-string bass because they didn’t think that the instrument’s neck would stand up to the strain of twelve bass strings.  Travelling to my cousin’s house one Thanksgiving I found that he had gotten a bass guitar, an Ibanez, and I spent much of the day sequestered in his room, trying to play the bass part to “Gonna Raise Hell,” by Cheap Trick.  But I eventually had to stop, because I didn’t want to get blood on his new guitar.  Bass strings are like round files, people.  You must have a grip of steel and a quarter-inch of callous to survive playing one for the length of a concert.  Flea, the bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers often had to superglue parts of his thumb together to finish a set.  Yet here was Petersson, demanding three times the number of cheese-grating, garroting wires with which to flay his left hand.  And that was pretty much all he played, eight and twelve-string basses.  And the bassists who followed him in the band after he left, Pete Comita, Jon Brandt, and others, played these things, too.  That’s rock, friends, pain in the service of power and a unique sound.  Pushing your own limits, and upping the ante, too, forcing others to put up or shut up.

Additionally, in order to rock, you have to be real.**  You cannot depend upon re-recording take after take in a studio, only releasing the dolbyized, computer-smoothed, noise-reduced, effects-laden pap that the producer decides is best.  To rock you have to be able to play it live, and not with keyboardists and extra vocalists hidden behind the curtains to help you out.  This band rocked so hard in concert that they could turn an old Pat Boone song (“Ain’t That a Shame,” written by Fats Domino, but recorded by Boone, who wanted to change its title to “Isn’t that a Shame”) into a hit in 1978.  Pat freakin’ Boone. 

Unfortunately, the band missed an important warning signal from the success of Budokan:  “Surrender” had already been released on a previous album, In Color and Black and White.  But radio stations never played that version.  Why?  Because the overproduced tune had no freakin’ teeth, no edge.  The band later blamed the dullness of that album on their producer, saying that it sounded like it was recorded in a cardboard box.

People, rock fans, want to believe that the people they see are actually producing the music they hear on the radio.  With Budokan there was no doubt.  This band made noise, interacted with the audience.  The audience loved them, worshipped them.  You could hear that.  Three of their crucial studio albums, In Color and Black and White, Heaven Tonight, and Dream Police, though sweet, carefully written, masterfully played, with brilliant harmony, could have been played by paid studio musicians. 

Hundreds of rock bands in the 1970s and 1980s would use technological fixes and careful editing to make themselves sound like they could really rock, only to disappoint any relatively sober rock fans that happened to show up for their live performances.  MTV amplified this problem ten-fold by adding visual elements to the fakery, which culminated, eventually, in a backlash known as “Grunge.”  But Cheap Trick was that most tragic of anomolies–a true rock band that sounded fake on many of their albums.

To be continued . . .

*Textbook for the School of Rock originated in conversations with my son on the morning school commute.  Thus, it seems to be unfolding in a Socratic presentation style. 

**Not real, in the sense of being essential, of course, but real in the sense of performing your own music, or adding a whole new dimension to somebody else’s.  In the sense of doing your own stunts, not taking orders from The Man.