Up the Downstair

Being a weeklie podcaste from Madison, Wisconsin featuring several remarkable curiosities therein occurring being a compendium of live music from divers artistes

Too Old to Rock’n'Roll?

October 22nd, 2014


ianderson2014 Too Old to RocknRoll?
(Photo found at Get Ready to Rock.)

Earlier this year prog stalwarts Yes and Ian Anderson both released new albums. Both went on tour in support of their new works. Interestingly, Yes played only a couple of new songs most nights on their tour while doing both Fragile and Close to the Edge in their entirety. Anderson, however, performed the whole of his new work Homo Erraticus for the first leg of his tour (it’s down to seven songs or about half the album now) and then played classic Tull tracks during the second. This got me thinking about how “relevant” new material from established artists is and about how fans react to it. Since this notion popped into my head, U2, formerly one of the most critically revered and most popular bands on the planet, has released a new album which has been, as far as I can tell, almost universally panned with many saying they need to hang it up.

I ran into an interview with Steve Howe from 2012 in which he was asked if he’d ever play on another Yes album. He responded (in part):


You take bands like Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones, bands bigger than anything I’ve been in, and they make new records and nobody really cares. The people want to hear “Satisfaction.” That goes with Yes as well, because people want to hear Close to the Edge. We like playing it. We love it, too. We love the new music but it doesn’t have the familiarity. It is questionable what effect a new album has on well- established bands. Sometimes, you have to step back and ask yourself what you should be doing. I think The Who had one of the most disappointing results when they put out that last album. It was practically ignored and they are The Who.

Howe makes some good points but his comments also raise questions.

Take The Who’s Endless Wire. It reached #6 here on the Billboard charts and #9 in the UK. If you look at setlists from 2006-07 you’ll see that the band were playing 9 songs from the album. (They were also performing “Real Good Looking Boy”, a newish track from 2004 that nonetheless dates from the Endless Wire era.) I’m not sure about the criteria the album charts used in 2006 but the Internet changed so much that you cannot judge an album’s performance in 2006 to that of one in 1976. How do you judge the success of an album in the Internet age?

I’m not arguing that Endless Wire was as big an album as Tommy and I don’t think anyone is expecting a rock album by a well-established act to be as big as the albums from their prime were. I just don’t think it was ignored quite as much as Howe thinks it was.

And what role do artists have these days in getting attention for an album? I think Yes do themselves and their fans a disservice by performing so little new material. In 2013 they played The Yes Album, Close to the Edge, and Going for the One. This year only 3 songs from Heaven and Earth were performed live. Before being dropped early on, “To Ascend” alternated with “Believe Again” while “The Game” was usually in the set. This means that Heaven and Earth was represented by only 1 or 2 songs per show. Fly From Here was much better represented on 2011-12 tours.

On the flip side you have Ian Anderson. Tull tours during the aughts had the occasional new song but mostly rehashed the same tunes from the back catalog with more recent albums being ignored. Then Tull dissolves. Audiences got to hear the whole of TAAB2 back in 2012 and this tour – at least the first leg did – features all of Homo Erraticus. As a fan, I view this as Anderson having confidence in his new material as well as in the audience to engage with it. Heck, fans may even investigate the new album knowing that they’re going to see and hear the whole thing performed before their very eyes. (Of course, some fans may decide to stay away because of a perceived lack of classics.)


yes2014 Too Old to RocknRoll?
(Photo found at Billboard.)

Yes does not seem to have confidence in Heaven and Earth nor in audiences to be receptive to it. Having seen them this past summer, both “Believe Again” and “The Game” were very warmly received which leads me to believe that their faith in audiences rejecting new songs was misplaced. At some point today’s classics were new and were performed in front of audiences who were not familiar with them. Here in 2014 Thick as a Brick is a beloved classic but in October 1971 fans were getting a taste of it in concert almost 5 months before the album hit store shelves. Similarly, Close to the Edge is widely considered to be the quintessential Yes album and, as Howe points out, fans want to hear it. But imagine being in Dallas on 30 July 1972 and hearing the unfamiliar strains of “Siberian Khatru” to open the show – Close to the Edge was still more than a month away from hitting stores.

Older bands will always have fans attending their concerts who only want to hear old songs, the songs they got stoned to in high school. So, to be sure, fans have to be willing to give new material a chance. This whole endeavor is a two-way street. But it can be done. If we rewind back to 1987, Jethro Tull had a new album and was hitting the road. There were lots of fans there who wanted to hear “Aqualung” and “Thick as a Brick”. And they got those songs. But they also got new material. I would argue that at least 2 of those new tunes, “Farm on the Freeway” and “Budapest”, became Tull classics that have, more or less, joined the ranks of “Aqualung” and “Thick as a Brick” in the minds of fans. It’s the rare Tull/IA tour since 1987 that doesn’t feature at least one of these songs and, when one or both is missing, “Jump Start” and/or “Steel Monkey” was usually there to fill in the gap. Even in 2014 Anderson is performing “Farm on the Freeway”.

As a fan of Yes who enjoys the music they made prior to The Yes Album and after Going For the One, I can sympathize with Howe’s view. I saw Yes this past summer and, while I enjoyed the classic material, I was rather hoping for more tunes from Heaven and Earth and songs that haven’t already been played a billions and billions of times before. I’d also have loved to have heard something from Drama since Geoff Downes is again in the band as well a song or two from We Can Fly.

After the tour in support of We Can Fly Yes then went on tour playing three classic albums in their entirety. And on the tour which just finished, the album was ignored. What message does this send? The one that comes through loud and clear is that the band doesn’t have much interest or confidence in that album. Howe rightly points out a lack of familiarity with the newer songs; so why don’t the band play more of them to help overcome it? Repetition is the key. If you play a few new songs for a while and then drop them for subsequent tours, it’s no surprise that people are unfamiliar with these songs.

Back in 1973 Yes performed Tales from Topographic Oceans in its entirety – before the album was released. Yes (and other well-established bands) need to regain some of that confidence. I’m not saying Yes needs to be out there performing all of Heaven and Earth but rather that it would be more interesting for them to mix the old and the new more evenly. Give long-time fans who stopped caring about new Yes albums in 1979 something but also give a clutch of the newer songs a chance.


thewho2014 Too Old to RocknRoll?
(Photo found at We Rock.)

Pink Floyd Coming Back to Life (Sorta)

October 13th, 2014

It was quite a surprise to read over the summer that Pink Floyd was going to release a new album called Endless River.


pf endless cover Pink Floyd Coming Back to Life (Sorta)

The album features 18 songs which were crafted from outtakes/jam sessions from 1993 sessions for The Division Bell. Overdubs were applied and some parts were re-recorded. From what I’ve read, the album is is a tribute to the late Richard Wright who passed away in 2008. It’s rather appropriate as The Division Bell marked the first time Wright received any songwriting credits since Wish You Were Here and his first lead vocals since Dark Side of the Moon.

Of course fans are debating whether or not this is a “proper” Pink Floyd album. Personally I don’t see why it shouldn’t be considered so. Adherents to the theory that the Floyd ended after Roger Waters left have no compunction ignoring Syd Barrett’s time as leader of the band and I have no qualms in thinking that A Momentary Lapse of Reason and The Division Bell are just as Floydian as DSotM and The Wall.

Endless River comes out on 10 November here in the States.

The song “Louder Than Words” has been released in its entirety. It’s got the female backing vocals, Gilmour’s trademark soaring, melodic soloing, and plenty of organ. What do Floyd fans think?

pink floyd – louder than words 2014 from Gusthavus Pompei on Vimeo.

Show #269: Richard Davis

October 6th, 2014


rdavis Show #269: Richard Davis
(Photo found at Isthmus.)

Richard Davis is something of a legend here in Madison. He’s been teaching at the University of Wisconsin since 1977 and is very active in the social justice movement here. Prior to moving to Madison, however, he had established himself as one of the best bass players on the planet.

He was born in Chicago where he learned the double bass in high school. Upon graduation he attended Vandercook College as well as studying under the tutelage of Rudolf Fahsbender of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Davis moved to New York in 1954 where he stayed until he became a Cheesehead. Now, I knew about his work with jazz legends like Eric Dolphy, Sarah Vaughn, and Miles Davis but was unaware that he played under conductors such as Igor Stravinsky, Pierre Boulez, and Leonard Bernstein until about 10 minutes ago. Davis also played on Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks and Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run. To top things off, he was named a Jazz Master last year by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Davis does a lot of work offstage and outside of his classroom. He founded the Richard Davis Foundation for Young Bassists in 1993 which matches kids with experienced bass players; Davis also founded Retention Action Project, a group which promotes dialogues that, in turn, promote multiculturalism at the University. He also started a Madison chapter of the Institutes for the Healing of Racism, Inc.

Davis was profiled this past summer in Madison’s alternative weekly Isthmus and he is still going strong at age 84. He continues to teach, perform, and work towards racial equality.

The show at hand features the Richard Davis Quintet and was recorded on 27 April 1996 at Craig Auditorium in Janesville, Wisconsin. The Quintet at this time was:

Ricky Ford – tenor saxophone
Cecil Bridgewater – trumpet
Sir Roland Hanna – piano
Richard Davis – bass
Wilbur Campbell – drums

I’ve read that the group was based out of New York although Campbell and Bridgewater lived in the Chicago area, I believe.

Setlist:

St. Louis Blues
In A Sentimental Mood
Recorda Me
Unknown Title
Unknown Title
Unknown Title
So What
Unknown Title
Blues March

It’s a nice audience recording but the levels are a bit low so crank it up.

Download show

Richard Davis

The description of this video is that it’s “from Jack Kleinsinger’s Highlights in Jazz Tribute to Charlie Parker” in 1972 and features Davis along with Ted Dunbar on guitar.

Relayer is Next Yes Album to Get Steve Wilson Treatment

October 6th, 2014

Not long after reading about Jethro Tull’s War Child getting the Steve Wilson treatment I now read that Yes’ Relayer has also gotten the treatment. It will be released on 4 November.


relayer remaster <i>Relayer</i> is Next Yes Album to Get Steve Wilson Treatment

From what I can tell, there will be two iterations of the album. One is a BluRay/CD combination while the other is a DVD-A/CD combo. Apparently the “Definitive Edition” CD featuring Wilson’s new mixes won’t be available on its own.

The DVD-A features:

2014 Stereo Mixes: LPCM Stereo 24/96
1 THE GATES OF DELIRIUM
2 SOUND CHASER
3 TO BE OVER

5.1 Surround Mixes: 24/96 MLP Lossless/dts 96/24
1 THE GATES OF DELIRIUM
2 SOUND CHASER
3 TO BE OVER
2014 Stereo and 5.1 surround mixed & produced from the original multitrack tapes by Steven Wilson.

Original Stereo Mixes: Flat Transfer from original master LPCM Stereo 24/96
1 THE GATES OF DELIRIUM
2 SOUND CHASER
3 TO BE OVER

Alternate Album: LPCM Stereo 24/48
1 THE GATES OF DELIRIUM – Studio run through
2 SOUND CHASER – Studio run through
3 TO BE OVER – Studio run through

The BluRay adds:

Additional Material:
1 SOON (single edit)
2 SOUND CHASER (single edit)
3 THE GATES OF DELIRIUM (Studio run through)

Blu-ray Exclusive: LPCM Stereo 24/96
1 SOUND CHASER – Live from Cobo Hall 1976
2 SOUND CHASER – demo version

Archived Master: LPCM Stereo 24/96
1 THE GATES OF DELIRIUM
2 SOUND CHASER
3 TO BE OVER

2014 Stereo Instrumental Mixes: LPCM Stereo 24/96
1 THE GATES OF DELIRIUM
2 SOUND CHASER
3 TO BE OVER

Needle-drop 1: A1/B1 UK vinyl transfer LPCM Stereo 24/96
1 THE GATES OF DELIRIUM
2 SOUND CHASER
3 TO BE OVER

Needle-drop 2: US promo album A1/B1 US vinyl transfer LPCM Stereo 24/96
1 THE GATES OF DELIRIUM (PART I)
2 (PART II)
3 (PART III)
4 SOUND CHASER (PART I)
5 SOUND CHASER (PART II)

I am assuming that the studio run-through of “The Gates of Delirium” is the same piece of music as the one on the 2005 remaster. It’s a bit disappointing to see that there aren’t any previously unreleased songs here beyond tunes from the album in one stage or another of being crafted.

It’ll be interesting for my ears to hear what Wilson does here. Relayer has a very thin, tinny sound so I’m hoping he warms it up a bit and puts a little space between the instruments.

War Child Next in Line for Steve Wilson Treatment

September 30th, 2014

Steve Wilson is a very busy man. He somehow has time to record a new solo album in between bouts of remastering and remixing classic albums by other artists. Wilson has tweaked a number of classic albums by prog bands such as King Crimson, Yes, and Jethro Tull plus Nonsuch by XTC. Next on the docket are Songs from the Big Chair by Tears for Fears and Tull’s War Child.


warchild remaster <i>War Child</i> Next in Line for Steve Wilson Treatment

I have to admit to being surprised by the Tears for Fears remix but War Child was expected as Wilson has been working his through Tull’s catalog starting with Benefit. However, the amount of previously unreleased material from the War Child era was surprising. I suppose it shouldn’t be, though. The liner notes to Nightcap made it sound as if Tull’s vault’s had been thoroughly plundered and, aside from a couple songs that Ian Anderson loathed, everything else in the archives had been released. Yet a couple of tracks emerged as Tull’s remastered back catalog was reissued and fans knew of various songs still in the vaults.

While this reissue will come in single CD and vinyl formats featuring Wilson’s stereo remix of the original album, it’s the 2-CD/2-DVD version that is of particular interest. Here’s the tracklisting:

Disc One
1. WarChild
2. Queen and Country
3. Ladies
4. Back-door Angels
5. SeaLion
6. Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day
7. Bungle in the Jungle
8. Only Solitaire
9. The Third Hoorah
10. Two Fingers

Disc Two – The Second Act: Associated Recordings
1. Paradise Steakhouse
2. Saturation
3. Good Godmother*
4. SeaLion II
5. Quartet
6. WarChild II*
7. Tomorrow Was Today*
8. Glory Row
9. March, The Mad Scientist
10. Rainbow Blues
11. Pan Dance

WarChild Orchestral Recordings

12. The Orchestral WarChild Theme*
13. The Third Hoorah (Orchestral Version)*
14. Mime Sequence*
15. Field Dance (Conway Hall Version)*
16. Waltz Of The Angels (Conway Hall Version)
17. The Beach (Part I) (Morgan Master Recording)*
18. The Beach (Part II) (Morgan Master Recording)*
19. Waltz Of The Angels (Morgan Demo Recording)*
20. The Beach (Morgan Demo Recording)*
21. Field Dance (Morgan Demo Recording)*

* Previously Unreleased

DVD 1 (Audio & Video)

Contains:
* WarChild remixed to 5.1 DTS and AC3 Dolby Digital surround sound and 96/24 PCM stereo.
* A flat transfer from the original 1974 LP master at 96/24 PCM stereo.
* A flat transfer of the original 1974 Quad LP (with additionally Glory Row & March, The Mad Scientist) at 5.1 (4.0) DTS and AC3 Dolby Digital surround sound.
* Video clips of a Montreux photosession and press conference on 11th January 1974 and The Third Hoorah promo footage with remixed stereo audio.

DVD 2 (Audio)

Contains:
* An additional eleven group recordings from the WarChild sessions and later, including 3 previously unreleased tracks, and 4 orchestral recordings from the WarChild sessions mixed to 5.1 DTS and AC3 Dolby Digital surround sound and 96/24 PCM stereo.
* Six additional orchestral recordings (five previously unreleased) mixed by Robin Black in 1974, now in 96/24 PCM stereo.

I’d never heard of “Good Godmother” nor of “War Child II” which is an alternate take of the title track. Most surprising is “Tomorrow Was Today” which is a song that dates back to the Thick as a Brick era. It was played live in late 1971 and early 1972 as part of a medley with “Hymn 43″ and “Nothing Is Easy”. After a studio version failed to appear on Wilson’s TAAB remaster, I figured that the song was never recorded. Apparently Tull were in a rather atavistic mood at this point as “Solitaire” and “Skating Away (On the Thin Ice of the New Day)” were plucked the from the Chateau D’Isaster sessions and the unused Aqualung-era tune “Lick Your Fingers Clean” was re-recorded as “Two Fingers”.

Plus there’s all that orchestral music for the War Child film which was never made. “Waltz of the Angels” appeared on the 2002 remaster of the album as “War Child Waltz” and the song was used as intro music for some of the band’s concerts in 1974. There is a photo of what I think is an acetate featuring “The Beach” and “Mime Sequence” circulating so we knew there was more of the film score to be had.

The liner notes should be interesting. I look forward to finding out if Wilson was able to discover the provenance of “Saturation”. In the liner notes to 20 Years of Jethro Tull, it says something like “recorded for no good reason at a studio no one can recall”. I also hope that “Paradise Steakhouse” is explained because I’ve wondered just what the hell that song was about since I first heard it. Is it the preferred eatery of those in the afterlife? Plus I am keen to read a full account of the War Child movie and perhaps ascertain how the songs fit in, if they do.

This release raises some questions for Tull fans. Is Wilson going to remix/remaster any more Tull albums? If so, is Minstrel in the Gallery next? Personally, I’d love to hear a 5.1 mix of “Velvet Green” and find myself in the middle of a whirlwind of whistles, portative organ, nakers, and glockenspiel. And just how much more unreleased material is in the vaults? I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there was a fairly substantial cache of Broadsword and the Beast-era material that still hasn’t seen the light of day even though 15 outtakes have already been released. We know there’s at least one song called “Dinosaur”.

The CD and digital download version of this edition of War Child are due on 24 November while vinyl aficionados will have to wait until next year on 13 January.

Piano + Drums = Wow! = The Claudettes

September 23rd, 2014

I heard the Chicago band The Claudettes over the summer on an episode of Sound Opinions and really enjoyed them. According to the band’s Bandcamp site, the genesis of the name was quite fortuitous:

The piano-drums duo of Johnny Iguana and Michael Caskey didn’t know what they were getting themselves into when they called a place called Claudette’s Bar in 2010 looking for a gig in between Chicago and St. Louis. Not only did Claudette book them into her bar in Oglesby, IL (an hour and a half southwest of Chicago’s South Side), but she made them her house band and put them on salary…

Check out the title track of their album Infernal Piano Plot…HATCHED!.



New Primus Weirdness Just in Time for Halloween

September 23rd, 2014


primus chocolate cover New Primus Weirdness Just in Time for Halloween

Tim Alexander has rejoined Primus and the band has a new album due out on 21 October called Primus and the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble. It is a tribute to the movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, the one starring Gene Wilder, that is. Somehow I have no problem linking Les Claypool and Willy Wonka.

The song “Pure Imagination” has been released to give folks a taste of things to come.



A tour kicks off in Philadelphia the day after the album’s release. Unsurprisingly there’s no Madison date. However, Chicago and Milwaukee are also being bypassed.

Upper Midwestern Music to Get Its Due in Folksongs of Another America

September 23rd, 2014


Leary Folksongs of Another America Upper Midwestern Music to Get Its Due in <i>Folksongs of Another America</i>

Prof. Jim Leary teaches folklore studies here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and works tirelessly to document and gain recognition for the culture of the Upper Midwest, i.e. – Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. I reviewed his book about The Goose Island Ramblers, Polkabilly, a few years ago and it can be found here.

His latest work is to be published in February by the UW Press and is called Folksongs of Another America: Field Recordings from the Upper Midwest, 1937–1946. Several years in the making, this looks to be his magnum opus. It’s a 94-page book accompanied by 5 CDs of music and a DVD featuring a documentary which looks at Alan Lomax’s trek to the Upper Midwest in 1938 to make field recordings.

I found a nice interview with Prof. Leary up at the Upper Midwest Old-Time blog which gives the reader some of Leary’s background and has him speak about his passion for the region and its culture. I also discovered the video below from the Library of Congress. Since I haven’t watched it yet, I can only presume that Leary makes the case for Upper Midwestern folk music traditions.

There’s a revealing quote in the interview which bears highlighting:

The songs and tunes of Upper Midwesterners have been largely hidden from public knowledge, and largely ignored by cultural institutions, in part because of their stylistic and linguistic diversity.

In my review of Polkabilly I opined that Upper Midwestern folk music is surely ignored, in part, because polkas, waltzes, and blazing Hardanger fiddling did not help form the basis of rock & roll. Here Leary brings up “linguistic diversity”, i.e. – a lot of the music wasn’t in English. I can certainly understand why songs sung in German, Polish, or an American Indian tongue wouldn’t have an impact on popular music but why cultural institutions and, from what I’ve read, academic institutions, have avoided Upper Midwestern folk music baffles me. I suppose two world wars can put the damper on researching German influence on American culture. If in a cynical frame of mind, one could also speculate that in the 1950s and 60s with an Anglo-/African-American folk music revival going on, examining the folk music behind the songs of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Peter, Paul, and Mary was more glamorous and/or more “relevant” than pondering how Ojibwe and Finnish musical traditions melded in the lumberjack camps of northern Wisconsin.

Regardless, I am very much looking forward to this set and it will be interesting to see how it is received.



Show #268: Eurythmics

September 23rd, 2014


eurythmics83 Show #268: Eurythmics
(Photo found at Home of Rock.)

In her book She’s a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock & Roll Gillian Gaar discusses how some artists utilized MTV subvert “traditional images of femininity” and notes that Annie Lennox of Eurythmics was one of the first women to take advantage of the new medium. I recall the videos for “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”, “Here Comes the Rain Again”, and “Who’s That Girl?” getting plenty of air time on MTV in 1983/84. I was never a fan of their synth-pop and so it was surprising to find out that Lennox was a big R&B fan, especially Motown. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised but when I think of Eurythmics, I think of drum machines and squeaky early 80s synth sounds.

Despite having no love for the band’s music, there was no doubt that Lennox herself had a great set of pipes and was a very charismatic figure. Instead of traditionally long hair, she kept hers cropped. The story related by Gaar is that in the early days of Eurythmics Lennox had been keeping her hair short and wearing wigs on stage but had one pulled off at a gig. Her true look garnered cheers and she decided to stop keeping it under wraps. It being the 80s, I found it refreshing to see someone who didn’t regularly apply multiple cans of hair spray to achieve a ridiculous, gaudy coiffure. I think her hair style plus her chiseled features gave her slightly masculine cast which definitely helped set her apart.

Her gender bending was taken to a new level, to my memory, in the video for “Who’s that Girl?” in which Lennox dons a blond wig to be a night club chanteuse but also another hair style and make-up to play a man showing interest from afar. The two Lennoxes nearly kiss at the end of the video – presumably a lesbian kiss would have been too much for MTV in 1984. In She’s a Rebel Gaar notes that when the video for “Love Is a Stranger” was shown on MTV the station “blacked out the shots of Lennox ‘changing’ from a woman to a man (she pulls off her wig), assuming the singer was a male transvestite; Lennox was forced to submit legal documentation proving that she portrayed the character.” Exactly why legal proof would be needed here is beyond me as I don’t recall it ever having been illegal for male transvestites to appear on television.

At the time when Eurythmics were at the height of their popularity, Lennox’s gender bending was a bit over my head. I saw her appearance and the band’s videos as basically being novelty. The youthful me never thought of the singer as making a feminist statement or twisting traditional gender imagery askew. In Lennox’s words: “One of the main reasons I wear the clothes I do and have an androgynous image, is because I didn’t want to be seen as a ‘girlie singer’ wearing pretty dresses. I don’t want to change sexual labels – I want to sidestep them, and to confound people a little bit with something fresher and less cliched.”

Are there any female singers that site Lennox and her androgynous look as an influence?

This show was recorded at the Palais des Sports in Lyon, France on 17 March 1983. It was broadcast on French radio and, unfortunately, the DJ here talks over some of the music. The recording is from what I take to be a fairly common bootleg called I Only Want to Be With You.

Setlist:

This Is the House
Never Gonna Cry Again
The Walk
Love Is a Stranger
I’ve Got an Angel
This City Never Sleeps
Satellite of Love
Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)
I Could Give You (a Mirror)
Invisible Hands
Somebody Told Me

Download show

Eurythmics
Annie Lennox

Here they are doing “Never Gonna Cry Again” from 1983(?). I never knew that Lennox was a flautist. And check out Dave Stewart’s hair. That is why I cringe whenever I hear about 80s pop culture making a comeback. Aquanet must be stopped!



Show #267: Suzi Quatro

May 26th, 2014

I recently finished reading Gillian G. Gaar’s She’s A Rebel: The History Of Women In Rock & Roll and thought it would be good to post some shows by bands/artists featured in the tome. The first woman I’ll feature is Suzi Quatro.


s quatro 75 Show #267: Suzi Quatro

Garr notes that Quatro was considered a novelty. She wasn’t a singer-songwriter like Joan Baez or Joni Mitchell. Indeed, she wrote and performed hard rock and was often found in her trademark tight leather suits.

England’s music weekly New Musical Express wrote that Quatro was “Really just punk Penthouse fodder – all lip-smacking hard-on leather,” and Rolling Stone caller her a “pop tart”…

Her “tough chick” appeal came in for attack from critics who saw her look, not her music, as the act.

At a time when male performers such as David Bowie, Elton John, and Queen’s Freddie Mercury were toying with personae that freely questioned acceptable “masculine” and “feminine” behavior, such freedom for women came at a high price.

While it is certainly unfair to dismiss Quatro on the basis of her wardrobe choices, Gaar seems to forget that rock music and fashion are joined at the hip. Quatro is quote as saying, “I feel funny in dresses and skirts.” Fair enough. But I have a hard time believing that she said to herself, “You know, I really don’t like dresses so I’ll wear something more practical. Like leather suits.” Surely Quatro chose that look for reasons other than not liking dresses and skirts, i.e. – to craft an image.

Whatever the case, she certainly challenged stereotypes and, as Gaar notes, served as an influence on Joan Jett. Would we have had The Runaways, Bikini Kill, and Hole without Suzi Quatro? Perhaps not.

This is Quatro performing in Tokyo, Japan on 19 October 1975. It’s a rip of the bootleg Naked Under Leather which is a nice-sounding audience recording.

Line-up:
Suzi Quatro – vocals / bass
Len Tuckey – guitar
Alastair McKenzie – keyboards
Dave Neal – drums

Setlist:

48 Crash-Daytona Demon-Too Big Medley
Your Mama Won’T Like Me
You Can Make Me Want You
I Maybe Too Young
Cat Size
Can The Can
Devil Gate Drive
Jail House Rock

Download show

Suzi Quatro

I found this tour doc featuring Quatro in Japan in 1975. Not sure if any of the performance footage is from the same show that I’ve posted or not.

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