Been on a music thing of late.
I have always been an avid, though picky, music lover. With the exception of non-Western (mostly, it depends), reggae, and rap/hip-hop (and 99.9999% of all current popular music) I have pretty wide tastes. From classical to opera, blues, rock, jazz, country (old country not that modern crap that is light rock sung with a southern twang) bluegrass, show tunes, (some) metal, funk, soul, R&B (the real R&B, not the modern bastardization) and probably some stuff I can’t think of right now. I can listen to Louie Armstrong and Gordon Lightfoot in the same hour and be happy for days after!
As for Gordon Lightfoot: how many times can I listen to The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald or If You Could Read My Mind before I get sick of it? Going on almost 40 years now, I’ll let you know.
Thing is, within each genre I probably like 5% of its output. The exception would be classical and blues. Of rock, my appreciation goes down as we approach current time to where I have taken my toys and gone home now.
Years ago there was this good bluegrass band, Hayseed Dixie, that came out with an album of AC/DC covers. I remember remarking jokingly to a friend of mine that it was a little embarrassing as a DC fan how easily their songs lent to a bluegrass interpretation. Check out their cover of You Shook Me All Night Long here for a sample. Although the singer is being almost mockingly hillbilly with the verse, the harmonies in the chorus are very good; the original song lends itself nicely to country anyway given its major chords and progression. Also you would think the lyrics to Back in Black were written by a hillbilly if you have only heard their rendition. That also has a good alternate chorus, and the ending mantra on the outro is hilarious.
Found today one of their songs, (Thunderstruck – if you’ve seen any sports over the last 20+ years, you’ve heard this song) lends itself to cello here. The cover is not recognizable till around the 1:20 mark.
I like that kind of cover. Never liked covers that sound like they are just attempting to duplicate the song. Live it’s alright, that’s expected (although there is no absolute reason to do it then either). And I detest the “metalization” of songs where they take a perfectly good song and gnash over-distorted guitars over it and scream bloody murder – ach, what ache.
Probably the best cover I have ever heard was the song, originally done by the Everly Brothers, Love Hurts, and covered by the group Nazareth with the expert vocals of Dan McCafferty – man, he nailed that song to the wall. I also consider it the quintessential rock ballad. I’m not a fan of rock ballads, so it is the only one I like.
And why is that, you may ask? I always found it incongruent for rock bands to spend half an album bragging about bagging women or otherwise using and abusing them and then come up with some shameless attempt at cash by faking feelings of sentiment. Be a cad, or be sad, do not subject my ears to both. The band Guns and Roses managed to do both in the same song on 1987’s Appetite for Destruction with Rocket Queen (bet you can’t guess the innuendo there!). After two sleazy verses and a guitar solo with a woman moaning to orgasm in the background, the song ends with a heartfelt plea from the Bible Belt’s only ginger rock singer telling her she always has a shoulder to cry on and all he ever wanted was for her to know that he cared. Really? Not judging by the preceding verses. It is all done well, they were not a band with no talent, but it always bugged me.
I am sort of on a music kick right now because my favorite rock band is coming out with an album this December. I am a complete philistine when it comes to rock music, so my favorite rock back has always been AC/DC. Don’t give me any Police (although they are a good band) I don’t want Bono lamenting that he still hasn’t found what he’s looking for, or Bowie talking about how crazy America is and how he fears it, no Phish, please, no social consciousness or social justice for me. No “highbrow” stuff that Rolling Stone magazine (or the New Yorker, or The Village Voice) will praise to the sky.
I like everything from Little Richard to the Stones to Tool and a lot of stuff in-between (except for whatever is new after, say, the year 2000 – it just went downhill – and I’m saying that because I am older – the new stuff OBJECTIVELY SUCKS). But when I really need to get a jump start or cheer myself up, a good dose of AC/DC has always been my go to.
And related to that I have to pay my respect to the man who inspired me to get a guitar when I was a kid. Malcolm Young, who is suffering from dementia at the age of 61. God bless you, Mr. Young, you inspired me to many moments of enjoyment with the guitar. He’s the reason I much prefer rhythm playing to solo work, and the reason I am so into the search for that “clear tone”.
He is also the reason I own a Gretsch guitar (for those that do not know the awesome-sauce that is the Gretsch guitar, you are looking at one in the picture above) and a Marshall amp. The Gretsch I own is similar to the one above but is not a Falcon model, it is a Chet Atkins Tennessee Rose model – cherry red. My Marshall is also not one of the beasts as in the picture as I play in an apartment and have much quainter requirements. Mine is a small MG15CFX although I rarely will use the effects as I am not a big fan of effects.
I just got the amp this last weekend. My guitar was in storage as I had no amp and I detest digital simulators as come on computer programs. As soon as I found out about Young’s illness I knew it was time to get it out and play again. And for that I needed an amp. I play it though a Danelectro DJ14 Fish and Chips 7-Band EQ pedal to hone in on the exact tone I want. I like a clean tone with just a tiny splat of gain. I don’t mind hearing distortion on other guitar player’s work, but for me I like to hear clearly every note in a chord.
Especially since I don’t play a lot of typical rock music (unless I’m warming up, then I’ll usually bash out a Malcolm Young rhythm). I prefer to play blues with a lot of 7th, 9th and 13th chords and I think such chords sound like mud without a clear tone.
The current set-up gives me the best tone I have ever had. It is clean and crisp but with body and flavor (that might be vague to a non-player) the equalizer let’s the highs sustain and the lows have a slight percussive body to them. I can literally just strum a C7 chord and be done for the day happy with the memory of the sound.