Thursday, January 19, 2012

Funky Puzzle Tree And Other Assorted Rubbish How Not To Make It In The World Of Music And Society

Rap is CRAP with the "C' taken out so funk its predecessor must certainly be referred to as junk spelled differently. The funny thing with funk is that it DOESN'T have to be bad and stranger all the more it is some white bands who have used the kind of slaps in the grooves of funkiness to make it into something worthwhile and worth listening to. I will freely and readily admit that I hate all Parliament/Funkadelic and that I see the only saving grace of that garbage as some of the fine guitar solos from Eddie Hazel. Eddie Hazel, though, is another Hendrix protege and far from the best. I'd give the best to somebody who can write songs as Jimi knew how to come up with some pretty amazing structures for his explosive guitar pyrotechnics. Prince took a surface level only dig at Hendrix and just gave us throwaway pop, funk, and misguided attempts at some kind of sweet soul with dirty sexually explicit lyrics. At the time it was outrageous and exciting, but it certainly has not aged well. Bad people have an equally bad tendency to latch onto something because they think it will make them cool and tough and superior to listen to it or watch it or do it when all they will end up doing is to become unbearable parasites. I know the type well. They think they know everything and you can't teach them a damned thing so don't even try to have a normal polite conversation with them because they're too cool for you. They aren't cool at all. They're just obnoxious losers trying to prove to themselves and the world that beating heads in solves a problem or being rude, callous, and selfish is the way to be. No way at all. I used to think of this as primarily a parasitic Jewish male disease, but can see that while it's a lot of that it can be anybody so you can't make rash generalizations. I've talked enough about metal and metal is another kind of clique that people will dive into joining when they are missing out on the best hard rock/metal just because AOR is a dirty word. I don't understand this and I never did. People have been obnoxious towards my overtly eclectic taste when in truth I KNOW and I CAN APPRECIATE ANY KIND OF GOOD MUSIC.
Funk doesn't have to be P Funk. I never could get into any of their stuff and just saw it as more Sly And The Family Stone trashy fake soul garbage. However, the first efforts to fuse soul with what would be funk yielded some classics. There's only one James Brown and at his least histrionic he was a true soul God. And not to forget the other greats like Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, and Steve Winwood. Winwood turned the rock world upside down. He was a prodigy and his very sweet vocals were never icky sweet- he truly is about the greatest we have for soulful voiced rock and the artist all soulful vocalists should model themselves after along with Joe Cocker. Traffic began on a really brilliant note. They played psychedelic rock with R&B Mod overtones which was pretty unusual sounding- quite special. Unfortunately, come their 2nd album Traffic started moving into funk especially Dave Mason whose "Feeling Alright" is one of my very least favourite songs ever. This kind of disease to make more money than music would give us the horrid country plod rock of The Band and the smarmy histrionics of Blood Sweat & Tears. In the early 70s the music scene became flooded with horrendous imitations of both these said groups destroying the hopes of many a collector fooled by a great debut or an eye catching sleeve. On the other hand, music started to take off for far more adventurous territory with progressive rock/underground rock coming into play to combat the drivel that was top 40 radio at that time. However, even not all that was garbage. There is something about the perfect 3 minute pop single that can't be matched by anything else. A song like "Early In The Morning" or "Hitchin' A Ride" by the brilliant Vanity Fare or the clever perfection of all the material performed by Sweet at their best is to be looked at as the most perfect music in the world. Sweet would move on to progressive pop and eventually along with Electric Light Orchestra redefine radio hits. Sweet and Badfinger are two bands with tragic histories particularly the latter, but when looked at just for their music it will live beyond the tragedy and last forever.
In the 1970s pigeonholing became a really serious disease. It has lasted all the way since then right into the present. Radio and media want it all to be black and white and so does their Hollywood view of music. Music critics like Dave Marsh, Jon Landau, Robert Christgau would destroy rock and roll if they could, but thankfully there are people like me who don't give a fuck about cliques, critic's pens, and what we are force fed by major music publications. The worst thing you can do for yourself and music is to take life too seriously and take music too seriously. Come on and just have fun with it. Listen to what you love don't care what other people or those critics think.
 England/Europe and America have always had a language barrier when it comes to music or rather a culture barrier. I can see all the music for what it's worth and what it is, but in America narrow mindedness and funk fetching idiocies dominate the culture, the country, everything. The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal scarcely made a dent in America. Patriotism is a plague and so the same mistake made during the British Invasion increased into even more of a disease. During the heyday of British Rock 1966 to 1980 bans were put on British Bands touring the States. Everyone trashed the British and Europeans leaving us with funk garbage, Bruce Springsteen, and the deplorable NRBQ. I know better than to buy into any of that nonsensical poppycock. If a band from the UK or Europe had a hit in the States in the 60s or 70s it led to a panic. If a band from England wanted to tour America they'd run right headfirst into a brick wall. Some Americans didn't like this. If a British band was their main influence they'd wear it on their sleeve just to spite the critics. This is the upside. The downside is that back then American rock needed nurturing that could have been helped by the outside, but it couldn't get it. When the polarization between teenybopper and AM radio shlock, bad "progressive" rock radio, and a quagmire of commercialization VS Progressive happened the end result was if you were a good quality band in the States before the Pomp/AOR era you were doomed. When the likes of Styx and Journey came along it was so relieving. To add to that Toto were a band who during their best years could bridge the gap between smooth creamy commercial AOR and even White Funk! So it could work. This whole thing with funky rock being done the right way is really an art. The fallout of R&B/Funk/Soul artists who had a brilliant crossover hit in the 80s was dreadful. So many wonderful artists just disappeared completely after their one or two great hits. I'm thinking the likes of Sade and Billy Ocean where Sade would try many times for a comeback that fell on deaf ears with MR. Ocean now currently in the "What happened to the guy" file. "Caribbean Queen" is a classic- I would love to hear it again after all these years. Lionel Ritchie was someone who began as funk and then in his solo career switched gears to smooth soul, but though it seemed his fame would last forever the inevitability of changing times left him with about 5 or 6 years of glory and that was that. Rock artists like Glass Tiger and The Cutting Crew made some of the best music ever, but for sustainable success it just didn't last after that one moment in the spotlight. A band like SHY or Magnum got caught right in the trap of poor promotion in America and this would damage the former more than the latter. Magnum unconditionally hate Americans which isn't a good thing, but at least it has made their English/European success everything they could wish for. At the end of a long hard slogging around trying to fit all these disparate things together my conclusion can only be this is a ruthless game- you probably won't win it and if you join the self-satisfied self-serious crowd then stay out of my life. There isn't room for funk done poorly in it and there most certainly is no room for the closed minded. Open your mind, open your world. Turn on to music not drugs, tune in, but don't ever drop out because you can't get through to people. It's you who matters in the end.

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