Rhinofy-Foghat Primer

I JUST WANT TO MAKE LOVE TO YOU

The Willie Dixon cover that got no love in the “sophisticated” New York market.

I learned about this track from my college buddy John Hughes, it was all over the radio in his hometown of Kansas City during the summer of ’72. That’s the way it used to be, music was local, before the Internet truly turned us into a global village.

I didn’t know and I didn’t care. Savoy Brown never flew on my radar, did I really need to pay attention to the remnants?

YES!

Then the band released three more albums, none of which gained much traction, despite the second, “Rock and Roll,” featuring a brilliant literal cover photograph by Robert Downey (Senior, not Junior, you know, the man responsible for “Putney Swope”!)

Then, on their fifth LP, “Fool For The City,” the band hit pay dirt.

SLOW RIDE

TAKE IT EASY!

Eight minutes and fifteen seconds long and FM radio played the whole thing, incessantly.

It’s the kind of track you hate at first and then you come to love.

It hooks you when it breaks from the opening chorus into…

I’m in the mood
The rhythm is right
Move to the music
We can roll all night

There’s that dancing bass guitar, making you nod your head, especially if you’re in a Camaro, and then that electric guitar STRUM!

It feels so good, even though it’s not supposed to!

And when the track slows down four and a half minutes in, you’re hooked. You find yourself singing along, even though you don’t want to.

You can induct Patti Smith into the R&RHOF, you can lionize Lou Reed, but it’s stuff like “Slow Ride” that is the backbone of seventies rock and roll. PLAY IT!

FOOL FOR THE CITY

I actually prefer this to “Slow Ride.”

I’d lived in Vermont, Salt Lake City, I’d finally relocated to Los Angeles, where you could buy a burger at midnight and there were GIRLS!

The magic is about the energy and the crunchy guitars and that bridge…

I’m like a fish out of water I’m just a man in a hole
The city lights turn my blues into gold
I ain’t no country boy, I’m just a homesick man
I’m gonna hit the grit just as fast as I can

The track’s been screaming along and then it takes a left turn, as if you pulled off the Interstate into a rest stop to contemplate your life and ogle the wildlife.

And then it breaks down completely…

I’m tired of laying back, hanging around
I’m gonna catch that train, then I’ll be city bound

And then the track starts to scream again! He’s singing about a train, but nothing could accelerate this fast.

It’s the time changes, the soloing, the almost understated vocal… “Fool For The City” will never win any awards, but it’s there to ride shotgun with you every single day.

DRIVIN’ WHEEL

And this is from the follow-up, it’s the opening cut on “Night Shift.”

The chorus is simple, but infectious.

YOU’RE MY DRIVIN’ WHEEL!

And then the guitar rips off a riff and you get whiplash from the changes and it’s a ride so good you can’t help but take it again.

STONE BLUE

When I was stone blue
Rock and roll sure helped me through

Ain’t that the truth. If you haven’t got an e-mail from a fan saying your music saved their life, you’re not a rock star.

Life is complicated, and we count on our music to grease the wheels, to get us through.

Oh, let me ride on the mystery train
Ride through the night in the pourin’ rain

Listen to that slide guitar! Brings you right back to Memphis and the original fifties mystery.

Laid off work and I can’t be free
I need some rock ‘n’ roll therapy

These aren’t professionals, the fans of Foghat are hourly workers, blue collar, those who need a beer at the end of the day to get them through.

Put on a 45 and let the needle ride
Jukebox jumps and I’ll be satisfied

That’s what’s wrong with too many of those critics’ favorites, they appeal to your brain, to your intellect, but not to your gut, to your genitals, where rock has spoken to its true fans since the days of Elvis.

“Stone Blue” will definitely help you through.

BOOGIE MOTEL

My personal favorite. Because of the twinkly guitar sound, the riff, but most especially this lyric, which I can never get out of my brain…

Boogie Motel
Boogie Motel
May be sleazy
But it’s cheap and it’s easy

What a great rhyme! Simple, yet so right.

Admit it, there’s an appeal in sleaze. Especially when it comes to doing the do…we keep selling luxury, but what we really want is the basics…

Desk clerk’s heart beats like a hammer
Got a smile like a beat-up piano
Gives a nudge and a wink as you sign in
‘I got a room you can have a good time in!’

It’s funny, it’s sexy, it’s stupid, but IT FEELS SO RIGHT!

So how did I discover Foghat, how did I become such a devoted fan?

BECAUSE KLOS WOULDN’T STOP PLAYING THEM!

It was the midseventies, and I’d be driving around on a Saturday night and they’d be playing these songs, over and over and over again. And at first I pushed the button, but then I came to love them!

Pooh-pooh Foghat. Tell me you’re a devoted fan and I didn’t point out any deep cuts. But what I’m truly hoping to do here is to turn on those who weren’t alive back then, have them drop the needle, press play on this music which seemed so obvious back then but is positively revelatory today!

P.S. You’ll want to play the live versions of “Fool For The City” and “Slow Ride” from the 1977 live album, KLOS did!

Rhinofy-Foghat Primer

Pono vs. Wimp

Don’t be an idiot.

My inbox is filling up with critics saying gotcha, implying my endorsement of WIMP is a belated acknowledgement of the superiority and inevitability of Pono.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Pono is merch.

WIMP is a new technology service that will probably be plowed under as its competitors embrace hifi streaming.

Never has something so minor received such outsized publicity.

Yes, 18,220 people pledged Pono. If an album sold that many copies, you never would have heard of it.

But in our money focused culture, he who can dazzle us with a figure, in this case six odd million dollars, gets all the press and an ignorant public blindly accepts it, just like they believe Miley Cyrus is a desirable star, even though she can’t sell out arenas.

So what Neil Young has done is demonstrate that starpower can get lemmings to donate, sight unseen. This is even better than selling platinum tickets to shows. In this case, people are putting up their money and may not get anything. Then again, what they may get is not what they expect, just like at a Neil Young concert, wherein the master is famous for delivering the unexpected, and often unwanted.

That’s right, Neil Young is selling a high-priced souvenir, and has gotten some of his buddies to sell their names too. What you’re buying here is a high-priced paperweight. Because it sure won’t be comfortable in your pocket.

And then comes the issue of the recordings…

Neil is selling files while Apple is cringing, its iTunes Music Store suddenly faltering, with people moving to streaming. The news has been all over, then again, the public doesn’t follow the business press, they just pay attention to the musings of stars.

That’s right, files have peaked. Streaming is burgeoning. As is streaming revenue. But once again, the same people embracing files are pooh-poohing streaming revenue, when the truth is some acts are doing quite well and the more people who embrace the format, the more money that will be generated, just like the mobile phone business. But the public, especially the music press, embraces the future after the unwashed masses anoint it. CDs were gonna endure until your grandma started trading on Napster. MySpace made Tila Tequila a star and then the service was overrun by Facebook, but Justin Timberlake was gonna bring MySpace back! As if JT knows anything about tech. But he is a star, so his efforts get press, without him…no story.

And without Neil Young’s Kickstarter consultant, his effort on the site would not have been so successful. Yup, he hired somebody who made sure his Kickstarter popped and…

Yes, the world is manipulated.

But the truth is Neil Young is gonna sell flies, which are dying, at old CD prices, over ten bucks, and you think this is big business?

Then you’re probably opening a record store!

And where is he going to get these high-res files? The labels don’t have them, they just have the CD masters. Is he going to get every act in creation to go back to Pro Tools and EQ them and deliver them? And who is going to pay for them to service the not even 20,000 people who pledged, who may not even buy them?

And can you even hear the difference? Many experts believe you can’t. That CD quality is good enough, that it’s all in the mastering.

But that’s not the point. Neil Young is demonstrating nothing other than starpower here. If there are artifacts to be heard at better than CD quality, they’ll eventually be streamed. Not because Neil did this Pono Kickstarter, but because increased bandwidth will allow it.

So I write about someone who’s poking the future…

And you insist on jetting me back to the past, in some bizarre game of GOTCHA!

Not everyone. Hell, most people don’t even read my newsletter, but many more than those who pledged Pono!

Meanwhile, the public keeps streaming on the world’s music service, YouTube. Which pays even less than Spotify, et al.

But you don’t see musicians bitching about that.

And as a result, their fans are not complaining about it either.

If only these stars used their power for good.

WIMP

I awoke today and found
The frost perched on the town
It hovered in a frozen sky
Then it gobbled summer down

Greetings from Vail, Colorado, where it’s the final week of the season and I’m using zinc oxide on my lips to prevent blisters.

Just a moment ago it was winter. I was wearing my 3.0 underwear and my down mittens, and now there’s bare spots on Pepi’s Face and everybody in town can’t wait until the tourists leave and they can too, for a hard-earned respite in Cabo or Moab…anywhere where it’s hot.

But I still want it to be cold.

Funny this skiing thing. It’s the only constant in my life. I’ve wandered from the faith, but upon my return I find the sensation is still the same, exquisite, sensational…literally, it’s all about feeling, and I tend to live an intellectual life.

And when I want to disconnect from this life I pull up the tunes that mean so much to me but not necessarily to others. Like Tom Rush’s rendition of “Urge For Going.”

You see I’ve been playing all my favorites on WIMP.

It’s kind of like getting a new stereo, only in this case it’s a streaming service, but this is the only one that streams in lossless, i.e. CD quality, and it sounds fantastic.

I went to their office in Oslo and told them I didn’t understand their business model, that online only one service triumphs, there is no number two, Bing has lost billions, but they’re convinced they can make it. They’re part of a much larger company, that owns the Craigslist of Europe, only this one charges, they’re not playing the IPO game, they think a certain number of people will pay for higher quality audio, as well as editorial.

I said Spotify could squash them in a minute.

They said Spotify’s investors would not allow the investment for lossless streaming, that they’re eager to cash out.

And we can discuss business models all day long, all I can tell you is the sound of WIMP is blowing my mind.

The tracks don’t queue instantly. Maybe that’s because the company’s in Norway, maybe that’s because of the amount of data, although they said 4G is sufficient for streaming, that you need very slow broadband to be good enough, I think it was 2.5, which just about everybody has these days, except maybe those still paying bupkes for DSL.

So I put the app on my phone and was instantly astounded. I played all my favorites, all the songs I knew by heart. And I heard stuff I never heard before, or forgot, because I never fire up the big rig anymore, even though it’s right by my computer, it’s easier to play files. But suddenly, with WIMP, everything old is new again.

And I played “Blue,” to hear Joni’s dulcimer is to believe it’s all you want.

And then I pulled up Tom Rush’s “Circle Game,” which contains his rendition of Joni’s “Urge For Going,” for decades it was the definitive statement, before Ms. Mitchell released her own.

I’ll ply the fire with kindling now
I’ll pull the blankets up to my chin
I’ll lock the vagrant winter out and
I’ll bolt my wanderings in
I’d like to call back summertime
Have her stay for just another month or so

I want her to stay away. Not forever, just a few more months. The older you get, the faster time moves. Remember when it was forever to Thanksgiving, and the end of school? Now the world seems like those plates that guy used to twirl on “Ed Sullivan,” you can see time evaporate.

And it’s like we’re all on that platter. And when you’re young you’re in the center and you barely note its rotation.

But then you get older, you graduate from college, and you realize life is not forever.

And then people start sliding off. I’ve reached that age where dinner conversation revolves around health, I know a couple of people with terminal Big C.

And you know you can hasten your demise, or it can be the luck of the draw, but that no one here gets out alive.

So, so long winter 13/14. I know easterners are sick of it, but we Angelenos don’t live in it, we just visit it, and we wish it would last forever.

And so long MP3s, you were always an imperfect medium.

And so long candy music, without meaning. We can’t live on empty calories for long.

Now the warriors of winter
They gave a cold triumphant shout
And all that stays is dying
And all that lives is gettin’ out
See the geese in chevron flight
Flapping and racing on before the snow

See them? Coming back? Bringing the warm weather with them?

You think it’s a rebirth, but something is always lost as time transpires.

Sometimes it’s your parents, sometimes it’s your best friend.

If you’ve got a lover who stays, congratulations, but eventually one is gonna go.

And on Sunday the lifts will grind to a halt and I’ll be forced to move on.

But I’ve got no urge for going.

WIMP lossless streaming

Tom Rush “Urge For Going”

Joni Mitchell “Urge For Going”

Spotify playlist

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