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                 A Baby Boomer

 

                           Muses on The Music

What I Really Don’t Like

June 15, 2017

        I listen to a lot of music from the 1960s through the ’80s, and I like a lot of what I listen to, otherwise I wouldn’t. But there is plenty of music from that time period that I don’t like, and artists and groups that I won’t listen to — I switch SiriusXM channels when they come on, or fast-forward if I’m listening to an on-demand show.

        The prime offenders for me are Aerosmith, Queen and Rush. The first of those I was down on even before I (very, very briefly) saw Steven Tyler on whatever reality show he was on. And it’s not only that I don’t particularly like Tyler’s voice; the band’s music seems calculating and contrived, inauthentic.

        Queen I might have liked at first, but the histrionics eventually got to me. Freddie Mercury’s vocals are (probably intentionally) over-the-top, and the music, conceptually and in execution, is bombastic. The first few notes of “Bohemian Rhapsody” will make me reach for the pushbuttons or the computer mouse.

        Geddy Lee’s fingernails-on-a-blackboard vocals bias me against Rush. Not only that, but the group seems to take itself too seriously, and the music is overly frenetic.

        Emerson, Lake and Palmer is less annoying than that unholy trinity, but another group that I tend to switch away from. Their music also is generally too hectic, and too technical — in the sense of being heavy on technique. And when they change pace, they deliver things like “Lucky Man” and “From the Beginning.” 

        In terms of the like/dislike dichotomy, ELP’s origins are a mixed bag. Emerson came from Nice, and I do own one LP by that group; one cut from the same, a cover of Dylan’s “She Belongs to Me,” is excellent, but the rest of it is too much in the frenetic/technical mode, with weak vocals to boot.

        Lake was in King Crimson before ELP, and that proto-prog rock group was at times a lot punchier and deeper than its Greg Lake predecessor, but also sometimes too pretentious. Palmer came to ELP from Atomic Rooster, which 45 years ago I thought sucked. (Snap record review I wrote/spoke back then: “Atomic Rooster lays an egg!)

        Grand Funk Railroad was another ’70s band that I generally despised, for being shallow and programmatic. The exception would be “I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home),” which — while still programmatic, was painfully, and deliberately, non-shallow and “meaningful.” I will say that GFR’s bassist, Mel Schacher, was impressive — had somewhat the same sound (and prominence within his band’s sound) as Yes’s Chris Squire.

        Nobody plays much of Iron Butterfly anymore, which for me is a good thing. My history with that prototypical heavy metal band is interesting, dating back to when a good friend of mine convinced me back in 1968 that IB was where it was at, or where it was going, or something.

        So I got an eight-track tape of their second album, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” and substantially changed my listening habits. And I do mean substantially; my favorite act at the time was Sergio Mendes and Brazil 66!

        That album, and the title song, no doubt influenced me to go to see Iron Butterfly live (either the first or second concert I ever attended) the following spring. The band acted painfully hip, turned the over-long “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” into something even longer — and was overshadowed by its opening act, REO Speedwagon, and the show’s emcee, WLS-AM’s Larry “Who Loves You” Lujack.

        There are a lot of individual songs, including some by artists not mentioned above, that I generally don’t want to hear. They were detailed in a Struggling Weekly column I wrote during my tenure as a newspaper editor, which is archived here on this blog, at http://www.scottthomson.org/cgiomh-blog/Date/2012-04.

        Among those mentioned there are three by Queen, but also a number by artists and groups that I otherwise like. I probably could add to the Awful Eight listed therein — the aforementioned “Lucky Man” might make it into a Terrible Ten — but that would require actually thinking about stuff that I really would rather not hear.

 

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