Miscellaneous Rumbles

Bands You Hated Then But Like Now

51

To me the Doors' first album still holds up as a masterpiece, Everything they did after that was inconsistent, with moments of brilliance and moments of meh. I'm with Mac --- Densmore is a really good drummer with a solid jazz background, and I always dug Robbie Krieger's playing and tone. He also wrote some of the Doors' best stuff. I gotta give props to Ray Manzarek as the anchor ---if he had played a Hammond instead of a Vox Continental, who knows?

More or less yes to all of this. I can't really consider Manzarek overrated - what he did, at the time he did it was fresh and unique. When listening to the band as an oldster, it's struck me that Krieger's playing (equally fresh and unique, I think) owed a lot to phrasing and lines he must have picked up listening to his father's jazz trumpet work. In that way, he dovetailed with Densmore's (yes) jazzish drumming. They almost played counterpoint as a sort of swinging jazz rhythm section, while Manzarek's churchy/pop/classical experience and necessarily somewhat rigid (but never stupid) basslines (because he had to concentrate on the right hand as well) played the straight guy in the ensemble.

Certainly one of the most unusually constituted instrumental trios in rock - and one whose sound and texture could not have been predicted by describing its constituent parts.

What I find exceptional about the band, in retrospect, is that they bridged the texturally colorful pop of the mid-60s (where harpsichords, bells, and diverse keyboard sounds were surprisingly abundant) with the guitar-heavier psychedelia that was coming (and which they helped usher in). Especially on the first three albums, neither of those influences swamped the other. They were kind of a bridge between two eras. Had there been more vocal range, richer harmonies, more songwriting, and a less flamboyant/troubled/self-destructive front man (ok, and maybe a career-spanning producer to keep them in line), they really could have been an American Beatles.

Again - especially on the early albums - they had impeccable pop instincts and accessible melodicism, even as they were darkly trawling the lurid dregs of Morrison's psyche. The interplay of light and shade was compelling.

I'd agree that the ratio of great to mediocre material diminished with each album - but I'd extend the "masterpiece" rating to Strange Days as well as the first album. Waiting for the Sun is really not far off. Morrison Hotel is, I think, back to masterpiece status - though by then they'd oddly transitioned to a much different overall aesthetic. In a way, much more American roots than the earlier, frillier, material. And LA Woman...well, there's some filler on there - but there's some killer too.

And Morrison, ever the focal point and lightning rod and whipping boy - for all his deficiencies, he was the shaman who pulled the other players' diverse styles and abilities together. His ambition was enough for all of them. No Morrison, no Doors - as they vividly proved with the two very competent (but irrelevant) albums they put together after the Lizard King finally shed his skin.

But yeah. The first two albums, and Morrison Hotel. With the exception of the long-form psychological trauma drama of "The End" and "When the Music's Over" (forgive them their hippiedom), those albums are filled with tight, concise, interesting, colorful, diverse songs, pretty well devoid of self-indulgence, well executed, and almost perfectly realized.

Except in concept, lyric, and psychological exploration, the material went places the pop of the day generally did not.

52

I completely agree on the first album. The next one (Strange Days) was nearly as good, with the following two getting progressively weaker. The fourth caused me to lose most of my interest. The fourth was the one with 'Tell all the people' and 'Touch me'. Horns? On a Doors album? By this point, Morrison was out of it much of the time and well into his drunken overweight incoherent slob phase.

Right, OK, similar judgments. The fourth - Soft Parade - deposits a lot of turds. The first side is stinky. But side two is a different story: "Wild Child" is a return to early Doors form, "Runnin' Blue" at least isn't bad, "Wishful Sinful" remains a favorite Doors song for me, and whether it makes sense or not, "Soft Parade" itself is a pretty polychromatic romp.

At the time (I was 14, and the album may have been best appreciated by someone a couple years older), I was quite taken by the ranting anti-sermon that kicked off the song - though it was years before I understood its import. In the context of the present, it's pretty tame and even sophomoric; in terms of iconoclasm, it doesn't hold a candle to, say, Marilyn Manson or caricature death-metal. Still, it got my attention and remains memorable. The soft plea that follows, "can you give me sanctuary," in its sweet melody, remains affecting: our protagonist rejects the comforts of religion, then immediately seeks solace elsewhere (without specifying where) - using the vocabulary of religion to ask. To me, that's a portrait.


And given Morrison's corpulent transition from psychedelics to liquor and the stupor he fell into, Morrison Hotel is practically a miracle. All is revealed, however, in the meandering blues jams of LA Woman.

It was no surprise to anyone when Jim went to Paris and didn't come back.

53

To me the Doors' first album still holds up as a masterpiece, Everything they did after that was inconsistent, with moments of brilliance and moments of meh. I'm with Mac --- Densmore is a really good drummer with a solid jazz background, and I always dug Robbie Krieger's playing and tone. He also wrote some of the Doors' best stuff. I gotta give props to Ray Manzarek as the anchor ---if he had played a Hammond instead of a Vox Continental, who knows?

More or less yes to all of this. I can't really consider Manzarek overrated - what he did, at the time he did it was fresh and unique. When listening to the band as an oldster, it's struck me that Krieger's playing (equally fresh and unique, I think) owed a lot to phrasing and lines he must have picked up listening to his father's jazz trumpet work. In that way, he dovetailed with Densmore's (yes) jazzish drumming. They almost played counterpoint as a sort of swinging jazz rhythm section, while Manzarek's churchy/pop/classical experience and necessarily somewhat rigid (but never stupid) basslines (because he had to concentrate on the right hand as well) played the straight guy in the ensemble.

Certainly one of the most unusually constituted instrumental trios in rock - and one whose sound and texture could not have been predicted by describing its constituent parts.

What I find exceptional about the band, in retrospect, is that they bridged the texturally colorful pop of the mid-60s (where harpsichords, bells, and diverse keyboard sounds were surprisingly abundant) with the guitar-heavier psychedelia that was coming (and which they helped usher in). Especially on the first three albums, neither of those influences swamped the other. They were kind of a bridge between two eras. Had there been more vocal range, richer harmonies, more songwriting, and a less flamboyant/troubled/self-destructive front man (ok, and maybe a career-spanning producer to keep them in line), they really could have been an American Beatles.

Again - especially on the early albums - they had impeccable pop instincts and accessible melodicism, even as they were darkly trawling the lurid dregs of Morrison's psyche. The interplay of light and shade was compelling.

I'd agree that the ratio of great to mediocre material diminished with each album - but I'd extend the "masterpiece" rating to Strange Days as well as the first album. Waiting for the Sun is really not far off. Morrison Hotel is, I think, back to masterpiece status - though by then they'd oddly transitioned to a much different overall aesthetic. In a way, much more American roots than the earlier, frillier, material. And LA Woman...well, there's some filler on there - but there's some killer too.

And Morrison, ever the focal point and lightning rod and whipping boy - for all his deficiencies, he was the shaman who pulled the other players' diverse styles and abilities together. His ambition was enough for all of them. No Morrison, no Doors - as they vividly proved with the two very competent (but irrelevant) albums they put together after the Lizard King finally shed his skin.

But yeah. The first two albums, and Morrison Hotel. With the exception of the long-form psychological trauma drama of "The End" and "When the Music's Over" (forgive them their hippiedom), those albums are filled with tight, concise, interesting, colorful, diverse songs, pretty well devoid of self-indulgence, well executed, and almost perfectly realized.

Except in concept, lyric, and psychological exploration, the material went places the pop of the day generally did not.

– Proteus

"A bridge between two eras." Proteus, you are a master wordsmith and I value your learned opinions; however, I've got to say, I have to Evelyn Wood speed read your flowery pontifications to cut to the heart of the chase. Time is fleeting, life is short. Eight paragraphs just kills me, man.

54

Sorry, Jim. If I had more time I could make it shorter.

55

Sorry, Jim. If I had more time I could make it shorter.

– Proteus

Ha! Never apologize for who you are!

56

The Doors made exceptional use of Fenderbass on the records. Not exclusively, the freestanding keyboard bass is mostly there, augmented and embiggened (sidebar- that's now a bona-fide, real word in the dictionary!) by the malevolent splatting thud of Larry Knetchel using what sounds like the firmest plectrum in the firmament. LA Woman utilised Elvis' fluid and funky pizzicato bass player, Jerry Scheff. Forgive the pedantry, but this surely expands the trio somewhat. A quadro, perhaps?

Contrary to the mythology, Morrison was clean, sober, punctual and efficient on the LA Woman sessions. The whole album was done inside of a week, mostly completely live.

On topic, I was terrified by electropop and the frosty future it promised. Kraftwerk, Gary Numan, Human League, all your fun favourites. Now, I'm enamoured with the prevailing feeling of warmth and indomitable human spirit in the music of these bands. The sound of a Juno or a Prophet on a saw wave, an 808 or 909 clicking and claving, provoke a comforting, soft sensation now instead of ice through the heart as before. This coin has thoroughly flipped.

57

“Now, I'm enamoured with the prevailing feeling of warmth and indomitable human spirit in the music of these bands. “

Couldn’t agree with this more, Ade. Kraftwerk’s “Neon Lights” is enough to bring a tear to the eye, most of ‘Man Machine’ in fact. Mrs Noggsly and I once took a spur of the moment detour off the M1, selected The Human League on the iPod and drove around a gloomy, night time Sheffield listening to ‘Dare’. It was a truly spiritual experience.

As for The Doors, well there are so many fine moments. As a youngster I wrote off Jim Morrison as an idiot and the Doors as very much overrated. On holiday in Australia I chanced upon Ray Manzarek’s autobiography and started a long journey of rediscovery. To me they are the perfect fusion of dance music, poetry and nonsense.

Ray Manzarek himself used to say that he thought of themselves as a fairly average lounge jazz act, and, in my book, it doesn’t get any finer than that.

I love that brief moment in “The Soft Parade” when they usher in disco, with that shuffle beat burst of genius.

If you don’t feel like dancing when you hear “Peace Frog” you’re the very definition of L7.

So yes, I used to dismiss The Doors but now I dig ‘em.

58

Noggsly, a very tight and lucid post. I'm so square I didn't know what L7 meant.

Peace Frog might just be the Madchester blueprint, 20 years and an ocean away. Killer, killer track.

59

The Doors made exceptional use of Fenderbass on the records. Not exclusively, the freestanding keyboard bass is mostly there, augmented and embiggened (sidebar- that's now a bona-fide, real word in the dictionary!) by the malevolent splatting thud of Larry Knetchel using what sounds like the firmest plectrum in the firmament. LA Woman utilised Elvis' fluid and funky pizzicato bass player, Jerry Scheff. Forgive the pedantry, but this surely expands the trio somewhat. A quadro, perhaps?

All acknowledged. Incomplete exposition on my part; the band was indeed quartefied on studio outings. I was thinking how the arrangements must have evolved in jams and rehearsals before they got their studio shot. (Though I don’t know how thoroughly they were transformed IN the studio. Certainly the live album isn’t musically great.)

60

Absolutely, Proteus. The sound was sculpted within the three-piece format and the patent Manzarek left-hand bass figures.

Producer Paul A. Rothchild had the excellent idea of calling in Knetchel to overdub some hefty bottom end beef adding extra impact and drama to the records. Sometimes, he makes us wait for the thunderbass to arrive and it's so often stupendous when it does.

61

Proteus, their rehabilitation goes back, at least in part, to a conversation you, Ric12 and I had, in which you suggested that perhaps they were more authentic than Creedence, given that they were unabashedly a product of their coked-out and stoned SoCal 70s roots, while Creedence was also a bunch of California boys pretending to be from the swamplands.

I said that? Man! I'd forgotten. I see my point, and I agree with it. So why do I like Creedence (without, truthfully, spending much time in my dotage actually listening to them), and continue to get metaphorical hives when I hear the Eagles?

Because, as I've said every time it comes up, I find the Eagles literally perfect in every way. Great songs, great playing, great arrangements, über-perfect production, great harmonies. And - while I willingly and even enthusiastically tolerate sloppy execution and myriad other flaws if there are countervailing strengths - I also like, honor, and enjoy the pursuit of perfection in performance and recording. So it's not as easy as claiming I dislike the Eagles specifically because they are perfect, and I'd rather hear some warts.

And, for the record, I'm a big Joe Walsh fan - love the sense of humor in both his songs and his playing - and I have pompous pretentious ol' Don Henley's solo albums and really like them. So I apparently get along with both the most whimsical and the weightiest Eagle ingredients.

I do think it boils down to the way I believe they wasted all that horsepower in documenting that dissipated lifestyle in self-absorbed navel-gazing - no matter how authentic the process was. I think I have a beef with Buckingham-Nicks Fleetwood Mac for the same reason. If they were that smart, that creative, that insightful, why couldn't they have aspired to something more? Why couldn't they have climbed out of that snakepit, or at least looked at the sky and imagined transcending it?

But no, so far as I know, the Eagles never reached for anything more than interpersonal soap operas, overlain as they may occasionally have been with elements of western nostalgia and self-conscious tenderness for how special they were to have feelings. Pffft.

Maybe that's why I'm more tolerant of Creedence's rural wish-fulfillment. (Well - and John Fogerty's voice, good God.) At least it was about something other than themselves.

All of which reflections might make me wonder why, in my book, Steely Dan apparently could do no wrong. Because Don and Walt were certainly as immersed in the "LA lifestyle" (yes, I know it's a caricature) as the Eaglets - and made it the theme of so much of their material. Or were they, really? How much of it was fictional narrative? And at least they cast an ironic and acerbic eye on their own emotions, if they had any. I like that.

And, of course, I inherently liked their particular fusion of jazz and rock better than the Egos' self-consciously roots-raiding slicked-up politely rockin' countrypopitan.

Steely Dan was writing modern fiction; The Eagles were wallowing in confessional poetry.

Regardless, at their best they've got at least a few things going for them:

Some occasionally rock solid songwriting, capable of both setting a scene and just turning a phrase just to watch it twist. Nice harmonies, when they thought that would sell. A nice Rhythm section, when they thought that would sell. Joe Walsh and Don Felder.

All readily acknowledged!

62

I respect the Eagles for being the sidemen that took control. That's pretty rock and roll to me. While I feel there was some posing going on there with their flirtation with the dark side to get some press there is just not much to not like about The Eagles in all their incarnations. They were a group with not only no weak links but a group of all stars. I prefer their music to Steely Dan's and Creedence's, the other bands being compared to them in this thread. Steely Dan is a musician's band with the focus being the musicianship. It seems like Steely Dan stumbled on hit songs more than trying to craft hit songs. Steely Dan is more head, less heart. CCR has great songs and they could play but they sound like America's best garage band. They are more heart, less head. The Eagles paid attention to every little detail and every musician in the band had the musical chops of Steely Dan but instead of trying to outplay each other and their contemporaries they placed their focus on every little detail of the song. The Eagles balanced the head and the heart compared to Steely Dan and CCR. The Eagles used their musicianship as a means to an end with a great song being the goal.

63

Fogerty's songs are credible weird tales filled with fire, spirits, myth, voodoo, portents- all manner of elemental supernatural forebodings. His swamp songs are a triumph of imagination with brilliantly realised settings and profoundly tangible aura. That the band were signed to a label called Fantasy is a signal in itself.

He has a parallel with Robert Louis Stephenson (a weak and consumptive man whose stories also bore little resemblance to his lived experiences, his time or geographical location) in that the both put innocents as the observers around whom the action revolves and includes, frequently in a first-person narrative.

The difference with The Eagles is stark. Their own jaded decadence is the river from which the narratives flow rather than, for example, Fogerty's uncorrupted witness in 'Walk On The Water' where a mysterious nocturnal figure walking on water beckons him forward, calling his name. The lad runs and runs and tells us the tale in this song, one of his early horror narratives and a beautifully compact vignette of mounting fear and sustained atmosphere.

64

I'm with you there, Ade.

That perspective draws an interesting connection from Fogerty to Col JD Wilkes of the Legendary Shack Shakers...except the Col is less an innocent observer than a weary soul baptized equally in fire and holy water, and outraged about all of it.

Fabulous southern Gothic, though. And, weirdly, in his ecstatic reaches and apparent attempts to employ depravity to take reality by its throat, he has a bit in common with Jim Morrison. It's the prophecy thing; they have an agenda, and it's to voice moral outrage at mortality itself. Fogerty, as you note, is very much a more neutral ("innocent," OK) observer.

All three - Fogerty, Wilkes, Morrison - seem to me more interesting and evocative peculiarly American archetypes than any of the Eagles, whose most profound insight seems to have been "you can check out but you can never leave," which I always took as "I've fallen and I can't be bothered to get up."

65

I really like the lyrics to Desperado. It reminds me of a Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western or Jonah Hex. They've been alone so long that they don't know how to let anyone love them anymore.

66

Well, I seem to have touched a nerve with both the Eagles and the Doors.

But as I think about this thread more, and think about what I've been listening to more over the past few years, it strikes me that the bands I hated and like now is ... pretty much everybody anyone's ever heard of.

By which I mean I've always had a library chock full of the arcane and esoteric and interesting, and pretty much snubbed most anyone who actually sold two records. Here lately, I've been really trying to flip that, and ask myself if millions of people really are wrong, or maybe I'm just a judgmental jerk. In most cases, it's me, not the millions of people.

Which means my most recent purchases are almost all semi-well to very-well-known bands that I'm just now giving a fair shake. So that's how I find myself buying stuff from Janelle Monae, St Vincent, Little Big Town, Sia and Bruno Mars.

And I'm still rounding it out with more stuff from people I'd previously given half-a-chance, like The The, Kacey Musgraves, The Equals and Curtis Mayfield.

Point is, it's a big world, there's a lot of good stuff out there, and I'm finding what's stopped me from enjoying it is really just me.

68

No...I still hate them.

– Billy Zoom

you are still punk rock to the core and thats why I love you.

69

I remember picking up a cheezy cover of a Johnny Cash record in my fathers collection. he looked like a cheezy, boring old guy. Turned out it was some kind of low key compilation cd of songs that appealed to me the least. Later on, Cash became my inspiration for what a man with a guitar could be.

70

There are a lot more bands that I liked but don't any more.

S Mac

71
  1. Perhaps the weirdest answer in this whole thread: Eric Burdon. I grew up in a town with an FM station that played "Spill the wine" about every three hours and hated it. Recently came up in my new home half a continent away and had to say, that's a quality track.

  2. LievenDV's answer: Johnny Cash. I grew up with my father half-whistling to AM country as we drove around dusty roads and learned to associate the man in black with craptacular Sunday drives checking on soybeans. I see the light.

  3. My real answer: ALL LIVE ALBUMS. Used to hate them as departures from the album tracks I loved. About the time singers started to be pitch-corrected to a fault, I started liking live albums to see what a band could do without studio magic. And as I started to learn about fussing with live albums (rhymes with "Blive at Leeds"), I became a fan of bootlegs--at least bootlegs that the band tolerates or promotes. I am a rule follower, to a fault.

72

I'm lost...just who does BZ hold in total disregard?

73

I'm lost...just who does BZ hold in total disregard?

– Twangmeisternyc

I think he's talking about The Eagles.

74

Oh no, I think the list is far more extensive than just the Ergos.

75

I read his comment as every band he used to hate, he still does. Gotta give the man props for consistency!


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