JAIMIE VERNON – IT’s YESTERDAY ONCE MORE

vernon_19972Well, we survived 2013. Most of us anyway. The entertainment industry lost nearly an entire generation of scenemakers from Jackie Lomax to Ray Manzarek to Slim Whitman to James Gandolfini to Annette Funicello to Peter O’Toole. The people making some of the greatest art of the last century have left it up to us to carry on without them. And we’re failing to do so at an alarming rate. Can you imagine anyone mourning the old-paris-hiltonloss of a Jonas Brother or Paris Hilton in 50 or 60 years time other than their families? The global glue that connects us through the arts has been replaced by the transient flypaper brought to us by Snatch Chat and Twatter.  No wonder we hold onto our pop icons from the past for so long. Once they’re gone, we might very well lose the soul of music, film, stage, etc., forever. And that’s not just me spewing my usual dramatic hyperbole. I usually say let sleeping dogs lie while the new generation wages their own rebellion. Except the new rebellion wears designer logos, auto-tunes and sues the estates of dead soul singers pre-emptively in case the estate sues them first for stealing said dead soul singer’s music [Yeah, I’m talking about you Robin TheDicke].

Beatle_KISSThe ‘Greatest Generation’ is losing the fight to remain relevant to a generation that has no relevance. It has just been announced that Paul & Ringo will appear at the 2014 Grammy Awards – George and John have both sent their regrets. Macca and Peace & Love Boy both had albums out in 2013 so it makes sense that they attend. But the ulterior motive in the announcement and the hype is purely nostalgic. The Grammy’s want to remind everyone that the Beatles destroyed America 50 years ago this coming February. And America has never been the same. It will be a momentary blinding light show that will be filled with Kanyes, and Swifts and Perrys and Grohls tripping over each other with their own whitenoise about how that appearance on the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ in 1964 changed their lives. Blow me. You weren’t there. You don’t care. Move along. Your 15 seconds has expired.  

GrammyAnd the Grammys – in their constant sad attempt to pretend to be ahead of the curve – know this. I expect in 2014 that the charts will be pounded with comeback albums by the very people that the charts, and Grammy Awards, were originally created for. It’s the only solution to getting passed the brick wall that has become the modern Borg Pop Collective. Don’t believe me? Read Segarini’s latest blog comparing music charts that are 50 years apart. It’s not just us old geezers complaining about today’s music. The current crop of crap is so much crappier than the old crap that came out in 1963. https://bobsegarini.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/segarini-2013-what-the-fuck-was-that/

Sadly, it also marks a stagnation point. We’re spinning our wheels on the long trek across unplowed innovative musical territories. It’s as if we sent the wagon train out in the 1950s and the children of the pioneers are pushing the dying and infirm rockers off the back of the wagons. Their ancestors are now in-breeding and have forgotten how to sing songs or write them. How else do you explain the committee needed to execute the brilliance [sarcasm mine] that is Justin Bieber’s “Baby” – a song that’s only 33 million views short of having ONE BILLION eyeballs watch it on YouTube.

Robert PlantAt least Led Zeppelin’s bad lyrical imagery was buried behind some impressive face shredding riffology. And it didn’t matter if we couldn’t understand what Robert Plant was singing – Percy, his denim Anaconda – distracted men and women from the banality of it all. Chaucer he was not. It was more like Rasputin in 5/4 time.

Classic Rock stations continue to hold this material and its aging audience close to the chest. On New Year’s Eve there was a straw poll held by Toronto’s Q107 on the air looking for the best Classic Rock tracks that they played in 2013. And then they’d, well, they’d do it all again with the exact same, narrow-cast list in 2014. Why? Because they can. No one has challenged this. Oh, I hear grumbling about the repetitiveness in posts on social media. But no one is really making much of a fuss about it.

Steven TylerHowever, Q and other Classic Rock stations better start shuffling the deck soon. As many aging listeners tune out through attrition other listeners tuning in are a decade younger bringing with them memories of their own classic upbringing – in the 1990s. To their credit Q has some material set aside to satisfy that craving like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, The Tragically Hip, Big Sugar and Sobersmith.

Q has cornered the market. They’ve got a huge following. The formula works. Right now.  But, as the light fades on our generation of listeners will they program enough music to draw in another generation of listeners to permanently fill the gap? There’s still a shitload of Classic Rock not being played – past and present. Here are my suggestions of some material that could be eased in, over time, that would perfectly augment the 4,000,000th reading of “Born To Be Wild” or “Riders On the Storm”.

GODDO
GoddoWhen I ran Bullseye Records in the 2000’s we managed to get Q107 to expand their play list to include three Goddo songs: “Pretty Bad Boy”, “Under My Hat” and Scarborough’s National Anthem “Sweet Thing”. When leader Greg Godovitz left Toronto for greener pastures in Calgary in 2008, Q107 dumped them from the play list. Listening to Q steadily over the past year on a daily basis, none of these songs have crossed my speakers. Time to re-introduced these guys – especially now that they’ve celebrated their 35th anniversary with a new live CD/DVD.

THE TREWS
Yeah, my wife and sister-in-law rave about these guys. And truth to tell, they are worthy of the Classic Rock accolades foisted on them in England’s music magazines – especially if you like the Stones, Small Faces, The Black Crowes or even The Tragically Hip. Q has featured them in advertising campaigns, but have snubbed their actual material. They’re releasing studio album #5 at the end of April. And they’re Canadian.  

Rival SonsRIVAL SONS
Segarini has been in love with these guys since their inception. They’ve been on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. They’re being played on every Rock station in Canada – Q gave them about four spins and then dumped them. Sometimes you gotta stick with it. The listeners will indentify their clear Zeppelin/riff rock lineage and abide.

VINTAGE TROUBLE
Every Thursday Q107 dedicates the day to R &B/Blues/Soul. They play greats from The Temptations, Aretha, Eddie Kendricks, Marvin Gaye, etc. So why not something new to invigorate the play list? Los Angeles natives Vintage Trouble combine the best of 1990s blues rock, Al Green and James Brown showmanship and some great riff rock. Besides, Lenny Kravitz has retired and this sounds far more authentic.

Monster-TruckMONSTER TRUCK
Like Rival Sons, Q107 has side stepped Hamilton’s Monster Truck. If these guys aren’t true to the spirit of Southern Rock and ZZTop, I don’t know what is (aside from the musically ambivalent Sheepdogs). And vocalist Jon Harvey can out-Eddie Veder  Eddie Veder…and on key too.

MOXY
Another lost Classic Canadian Rock act that was good enough to fill stadiums in Texas but not good enough to be played on Canadian radio – forgetting, of course, that they charted two singles here: “Take It Or Leave It” (1976) and “Cause There’s Another” (1977). Legendary guitar great Tommy Bolin (James Gang, Deep Purple) even guested on an album.

ELOI could go on with dozens more, but you get the idea. Replace Joni Mitchell’s “Raised On Robbery” with Segarini’s “Goodbye L.A.”, replace any lame April Wine ballad with something by Cheap Trick…Big Star…ELO…Status Quo…Uriah Heep…Humble Pie…Camel…or any 30 year old song that hasn’t been ghetto-ized as “Psychedelic” for a periodic patronizing once every other Psunday. Believe it or not, Classic Rock and the people who yearn to hang on to those heroes of yesterday can be refreshed . Just read the British magazine ‘Classic Rock’ – there’s schematics in there on how to satisfy aging die-hard rockers.

Now if only the idea of Paul & Ringo getting back together was a new one. They’ve done it a dozen times over the last decade – not the least of which was on Ringo’s 70th birthday at Radio City Music Hall in 2010: Editor’s Note: Pair them with Dani Harrison and Julian Lennon and you would have a MOMENT, otherwise, we get another Grammy mashup with two icons, a rapper with a clothing line, and a 12 year old with a hit record.

Send your CDs for review to this NEW address: Jaimie Vernon, 4003 Ellesmere Road, Toronto, ON M1C 1J3 CANADA

=JV=

Jaimie’s column appears every Saturday.

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS_ButtonJaimie “Captain CanCon” Vernon has been president of the on again/off-again Bullseye Records of Canada since 1985. He wrote and published Great White Noise magazine in the ‘90s, has been a musician for 35 years, and recently discovered he’s been happily married for 17 of those years. He is also the author of the Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia and a collection of his most popular ‘Don’t Believe A Word I Say’ columns called ‘Life’s A Canadian…BLOG’ both of which are available at Amazon.com or http://www.bullseyecanada.com

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