Neil Young with Crazy Horse Play “Cinnamon Girl”

Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere Neil Young with Crazy HorseListen to this track by Godfather of Grunge Neil Young playing with the now-venerable equine-monikered rock institution Crazy Horse. It’s “Cinnamon Girl”, a single as taken from Young’s second record bearing his name; Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, released in the spring of 1969 .

The song itself has appeared in many forms over the years since it was released, including on the essential compilation album Decade, released seven years after it appeared on Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. By now of course, the song is a concert staple and a rock standard that serves as a touchpoint for many bands across the rock spectrum even now in the 21st Century.

It’s almost absurd to imagine that this song hasn’t always been around, so important is it to the way that rock music would develop in the ensuing decades. But, despite its standing in the annals of rock music history, it had some pretty humble, yet strangely magical origins. Read more

Pop Culture Apocalypse: Gimme Shelter

It seems that a storm may well be threatening our very (quality music-consuming) lives today, good people.In this month’s guest post here at the Delete Bin, pop culture vulture and writer Geoff Moore gazes out on the plain once again, this time with a belief in democracy and in pop greatness held under pressure. Does the age of social media, social sharing, and the democratization of content mean the death of pop artistry too? Is it the end of the world as we know it where pop music chart action that’s unfettered by crossover marketing is concerned?


According to the whack-jobs and nut cases whose URLs constitute the last few dusty pages of the Internet, the Mayan Long Count calendar dictates December 21, 2012 as the end of the world as we know it. Fortunately we’ve some months yet to get our affairs in order and due diligence is the order of the day as the lunatic fringe may be right this time. If you’re not as jittery as the ruler of an Arab police state, you should be. Signs of a pop culture apocalypse are all around us.

Following Mick Jagger’s Solomon Burke tribute on the 53rd edition of the Grammy Awards the Washington Post was compelled to report that the voice of the Stones is not dead, contrary to tweets trending globally. The paper described the social media phenomenon as a hoax.

It wasn’t; because a hoax involves some forethought and planning. It’s simply that twits are unable to express themselves clearly in 140 characters and their twitterpated followers lack the attention spans to read, interpret and comprehend said 140 characters which alluded to Jagger being past his prime, hence a sardonic R.I.P. from a media personality trailed by illiterate electronic acolytes.

Another reason we are no longer able to communicate is because we are deaf. The cast of the television show Glee has racked up 113 entries on the Billboard Hot 100 in less than two execrable years. Elvis Presley slides down to number two with 108. Pour yourself a stiff one and contemplate this state of affairs. Make it a double. Neat. How did it all come to this? The sales of digital music actually declined for the first time ever last year and that’s despite iTunes launching the Beatles catalogue online. Yet people are still purchasing ersatz show tunes by teenage actors. And, dear God, they must be listening to them too.

Who are these people?

We must assume they are subversive agents of the counterculture because after all, the cast of Glee has been featured on the cover Rolling Stone magazine, the Little Red Book of the left. And the people will not be denied.

Rolling Stone, partnering with a shampoo, whose PR flak maintains that music is one of the brand’s core equities(!?), recently announced a contest in which readers will get to vote on whom the publication features on an upcoming cover. Sixteen unsigned bands (including one called the Sheepdogs from Saskatoon, SK) are vying for the honour. RS publisher Matt Mastrangelo told the New York Times that the rag’s staged battle of the bands is “the antithesis of what American Idol is.”

Sure smells like a cheesy talent contest from here.

Perhaps the magazine should return to its area of expertise, like asking Democratic presidents what their favourite Dylan songs are.

When the end comes you just want it to be sudden, over and done with in an incomprehensible, blinding, incinerating flash. But the Four Wild Horsemen seem to be content just cantering along and dragging us behind them through the popular muck of these times.


Geoff Moore lives and works in Calgary, Alberta. His basement is loaded with canned goods, and 45’s.

Interview With Young The Giant Who Perform “My Body”

Listen to this track by Orange County California collective known as Young The Giant, a big name for a big band.  It’s ‘My Body’, a track off of the upcoming debut self-titled album Young the Giant, to be released on CD next week, January 18th.

There was a time that the word ‘indie’ suggested a small-scale sound. Young The Giant proves just how false this assumption is, with a big sound that evokes the anthemic 80s grandeur of Echo & The Bunnymen and early U2, mixed with the crunch of 90s alternative rock.

The band is a product of a true collective, former high school friends and all musicians from a young age dreaming of playing music full-time, living and writing together, and now touring and recording, too. Living in Newport Beach right on the water, and bathing in the presence of the Spirit of Wilson, the band dreamed of a mythical eternal summer, and dressed it up in newer clothes; a lushly realized brand of rock music unafraid to put its ambition to the forefront. The chorus of ‘I want more” is come by honestly.

I received a copy of the record from the band’s label, Roadrunner Records, and interviewed the band via email to ask them about it.  Among other things, we talked about high school, communal living, and rock music on a grand scale. Guitarist and vocalist Eric Cannata answers on behalf of the band.  Here is that interview.  Read more

Robert Plant & The Strange Sensation Play “Takamba”

robert_plant_and_the_strange_sensation_mighty_rearrangerListen to this track by former Zep-figurehead and recent alt-folk proponent Robert Plant. It’s “Takamba” as taken from his 2005 album Mighty Rearranger recorded with his new band The Strange Sensation.

Being in the position Plant was in, and still is in to a certain degree, isn’t enviable.  He was the frontman of a game-changing rock band from the late-60s to the early 80s, not only establishing a sonic template for many, many bands coming up behind him, but also an image too – the Golden God.

After the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980, that entity which was Led Zeppelin was no more.  Yet, the expectations of fans and of music critics, continued along the same trajectory, a phenomenon akin to the rock and roll law of physics as applied to popular frontmen gone solo.  How to proceed then?  Make albums that everyone expects and be accused of resting on your laurels?  Or, make albums that run contrary to those expectations, and risk losing your audience?

On this album, everyone agreed that the seemingly impossible balance between these two powerful solitudes had been achieved. Plant’s interest in North African textures are certainly served here with the Malian-flavoured introduction.  And his penchant for singing atop rock Mount Olympus is also served, particularly thanks to Strange Sensation drummer Clive Deamer, who sounds as though he’s whacking the kit with a pair of telephone poles.

Plant has made a record that seems like a logical progression of all the musical avenues that he has explored earlier.  And as such, it sounds honest, as well as elemental and big, which is what he built his career on since the days of Led Zeppelin I.  And it is this type of honesty which would further spark a duet record with Alison Krauss, gaining him a following that many never expected without compromising his own musical interests in roots music, and R&B which he’d pursued from the beginning.

Rock icons have it tough in some ways, perceived as dinosaurs who walk a razor-thin edge of critical praise when putting out records in the 21st Century.  This is perhaps down to the “hope I die before I get old” factor set rather ironically when many members of Plant’s generation were in their prime.  Yet, rock and roll has always been about tearing down walls between styles, between communities, and now between generations too.

The idea of ‘relevance’ being about keeping up with the newest trends is itself outmoded.  If anything should be made irrelevant, it should be this. Artists making creative decisions that clearly sharpen the definition their own body of work should be celebrated, no matter when they had their initial success.  This is certainly the case with this song, and this album.

To find out more about Robert Plant and the Strange Sensation, check out


Classic Rock: Got live if you want it!

This month’s post by author, Calgarian, Habs fan and armchair music historian Geoff Moore is all about the way that live music  from Rock God Mount Olympus was once lowered down to the masses; two platters the size of dinner plates robed in all of their cardboard, gatefold glory!  It’s the double-live album, folks.  An artifact of a bygone age.  Let’s take a trip into the deep, dark, circular, crackly-pop past…


The single format seems to have spun back into fashion. Downloadable solitary songs and back catalogue tracks ripe for cherry picking compressed to ooze through earbuds have driven down sales of the tactile CD format (which slew vinyl) so much so that chain music stores, the few still standing amid the smoking ruin of the recording industry, now devote their premium floor space to games, ersatz merchandise and DVDs.

But there’s no rush to be had browsing Kurt Cobain figurines or Diff’rent Strokes Season 1 – 2 sets for everyday people of a certain demographic who are already smothering inside a post-recycled fibre Lululemon bag of ageism. It’s an unsettling epiphany to realize the market has passed you by.

So let’s venture out into the wind-scoured badlands and dig some dinosaur fossils. Dust off some extinct 70s major label marketing leviathans, an armful of those double live gatefold LPs that dropped into record racks like the Acme anvil that regularly accordionized the spine of a certain biped coyote.

Some bands were just that much more superior on stage – we tip our hats to seminal single live albums by the J. Geils Band, Ramones, Cheap Trick and Bob Marley, who also released the brilliant Babylon by Bus(1978) just three years later.

Artists at their peak dropped a souvenir document on their fans with appropriate gravitas (including a weighty triple set from an ex-Beatle with a chip on his shoulder, maybe) to buy themselves a little breathing room before going back into the studio to wax their next, hotly anticipated, masterpiece.

The watershed, of course, was 1976. But before the flood generated by Frampton Comes Alive! there was Before the Flood (1974) which documented Bob Dylan’s electrifying 1973 reunion with the Band – who had already released a New Orleans New Year’s Eve show as Rock of Ages (1972). These two albums, along with Van Morrison’s It’s Too Late to Stop Now (1973) and Neil Young’s Live Rust (1979), still sound as immediate the fragments of the very evenings they preserved.

Frampton Comes Alive! is the double live equivalent of boxer and grill shill George Foreman, who names his sons George, it begat a bandwagon train of lesser selling but arguably better sets from other rockers seeking a wider audience: Dave Mason’s Certified Live (1976), Bob Seger’s Live Bullet (1976) and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s One More from the Road (1976), southern scion to the Allmans’ edited and abridged landmark At Fillmore East (1971).

The weary brave gracing the cover of ‘Surf’s Up’ is reborn on the cover of The Beach Boys in Concert (1973), exposing his torso and upturned face to the warmth of the sun, his arms outstretched. And rightly so. While Brian is absent (likely in his sandbox hoovering acid faster than Oswald can synthesize it) and ‘Holland,’ the LP the tour was promoting, was no ‘Pet Sounds,’ … In Concert is probably the last relevant Beach Boys album.

They were a fully functioning American band with fresh, solid material to perform. And so was Grand Funk Railroad two years later when the Flint, Michigan group was Caught in the Act (1975) at their absolute peak of popularity. Live Bootleg (1978) captures Aerosmith at the highest point of their career, just as the train wreck kept a-rollin’. Supposedly undoctored, raw Bootleg may have been a barroom chin chuck to Kiss Alive (1975) which most certainly is not, right down to the cheesy, posed cover portrait.

Kiss Alive II (1977) could only have been conceived by Casablanca’s marketing department, three sides of ‘live’ and a side order of new studio tracks. ‘Still Dangerous’ is currently being trumpeted at Thin as ‘the real’ Live and Dangerous (1978), touting additional tracks, no overdubs and no post-production, a stark contrast to its original beloved incarnation.

The 70s cannot be revisited without acknowledging a penchant for wretched excess during the decade. ‘From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee’ for releasing a 12:46 version of ‘Moby Dick’ and a ‘Dazed and Confused’ that sure lives up to its title at 26:52. There’s not enough hashish left on the planet to re-absorb Led Zeppelin’s The Song Remains The Same (1976), although the soundtrack’s packaging was exquisite. It seemed dated upon release though, perhaps because the live footage was from 1973 and the band had moved on – Physical Graffiti and Presence were already in record stores. But one documentary soundtrack always worth revisiting is Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen (1971).

Other scree reached us from Olympus. Love You Live (1977) apparently was a Plan B olio for which Andy Warhol phoned in the cover art. The Stones had planned to release four sides from five nights (according to speculation and rumour at the time) at Toronto’s El Mocambo Tavern, but Jagger’s strategy was disrupted by the Mounties and Mrs. Trudeau who were just doing their jobs. Se we settled for side three, damn them!

Bowie sandwiched his plastic soul and coke-addled Nosferatu phases between David Live(1974) and Stage (1978). The Doors are like your high school wardrobe, something you soon grow out of. Absolutely Live (1970) has aged about as well as the Lizard King himself, it’s just sort of stuck in the tub.

The double live died (Sounds like a discarded Ian Fleming title, eh?) as the 80s progressed (although the Stones and the Who never got the memo). Twenty-five years ago when digital technology was in its infancy a single audio compact disc was an expensive enough consumer proposition and record marketers began to realize that lightning rarely strikes twice.

The exception being (and there always is one) Springsteen’s mammoth Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Live 1975-1985 which came down on record store racks like Sunday morning or like that skit-squashing animated foot in Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

The double live set was sort of a place marker in an artist’s career, a consolidation of achievement to that point in time. For a low charting or regional act, the double live album served up a buffet of their best for the uninitiated and unconverted.


Geoff Moore is a novelist and ad man,  living and working in Calgary. I get the feeling he misses the wonderment of gatefold packaging…

Rock Radio: Let the Airwaves Flow

This month’s guest post from Calgarian, Montreal Canadiens nut, and rock music fan Geoff Moore explores the storied history and dubious future of modern rock radio …


A pub lunch last week, a particularly insipid commercial FM radio station playing over the sound system, a woman’s voice sounding like a smile promising all the hits from yesterday and today (not to be confused with the Capitol Beatles release YESTERDAY & TODAY).And then Michel Pagliaro’s gleaming 1971 gem, ‘Lovin’ You Ain’t Easy,’ chimes through the noisy clutter of ad jingles, wretched ABBA retreads and sundry vapid and perky station breaks.

For a moment though, Chilliwack, A Foot in Coldwater, Andy Kim, Badfinger, Eddie Kendricks, Stevie Wonder, B.W. Stevenson, Creedence Clearwater Revival and all that was glorious about a transistor radio crackling out an AM broadcast back in the early seventies swamps diners in the tired joint like a wave. It wasn’t all great by any means. Payola aside, sometimes there’s no accounting for what hits the charts and sticks.

Memo to Henry Gross: Your dog Shannon is still dead. Goodbye, Terry Jacks. You had your time in the sun. It’s hard to die, but take your best shot. And you, Michael, with the nickel? Ram it.

Top 40 radio was training for the big show, FM – a strange, new world of stereo, of songs exceeding three minutes in length and a whole other slate of recording artists. “No static at all,” reiterated Becker and Fagen. Graduating to FM radio was some kind of rock ‘n’ roll bar mitzvah: “Today, I am a… serious music fan.” ‘Us and Them’ and soft drugs. But that was then. AM broadcasts in stereo now and FM has become what it was never meant to be: Top 40.

Another pub lunch last week, the day after the last one and the same particularly insipid commercial FM radio station is playing over the sound system. And Pag’s ‘Lovin’ You Ain’t Easy’ re-bops through the the bookshelf speakers mounted on the ceiling, about three minutes later than the day before. Heavy rotation for a 38-year-old A side. This same station plays either the Guess Who or a Burton Cummings solo track between 12:20 and 12:40 – guaranteed as the station has been newly renamed after a computer spreadsheet program (or maybe a t-shirt size?).

If memory serves, when this particular station was first launched in Calgary it was called The Breeze (definitely not a Lynyrd Skynyrd reference) and promised the Starbucks set the “softer sides of Phil Collins, Eric Clapton and Sting.” Zzz. The B.B.M. ratings measured something next to nothing.

The local “classic rock,” okay, middle-aged white guys’ station’s music library seems comprised exclusively of greatest hits compilations. Mysteriously, these collections apparently consist of just three songs, so ‘Forty Licks’ is actually ‘Three Licks.’ The Beatles’ double ‘blue’ album is actually an EP. The contemporary rock station, still known by its call letters (rare these days), is unlistenable, mired in the post-grunge sludge of Staind and Puddle of Mudd and other bands who can’t spell too gud.

Criticizing commercial rock radio is as easy as shooting KISS in a barrel. And, yes, these are the cranky complaints of a Methuselah in dog years, but you cannot imagine an artist like Van Morrison, a man seemingly mystically obsessed with the medium (‘Wavelength‘ and countless coda callouts – “Turn it up! A little bit higher…”), being inspired by a single one of your local commercial FM stations these days.

Nor even, God bless us all, a one hit wonder like Autograph (‘Turn Up the Radio’). And songs of praise to disc jockeys like the jubilant ‘Saint Jake’ by the Del-Lords or the Kinks’ concerned ‘Around the Dial’ speak to another time, one when Lou Reed could write: “Then one fine mornin’ she puts on a New York station/She don’t believe what she heard at all/She started dancin’ to that fine fine music/You know her life was saved by rock ‘n’ roll.”

Something happened to rock radio sometime between the disintegration of Led Zeppelin and the advent of Nickelback and it sure as hell wasn’t punk (two Clash songs and that Green Day ballad used in the Seinfeld finale to programmers). Corporate chain ownership, the rise and fall of A.O.R. into even more rigid and fragmented formats, staff cuts, boss jocks more concerned with their wacky on-air personae patter rather than the platters that matter? All of the above and whatever else besides.

All traditional media are hurting in this digital age which provides consumers a myriad of narrowcast, almost individually tailored, alternatives. Yet FM radio remains a proven and economical buy for advertisers (its raison d’etre after all). Improving its content by simply literally and figuratively turning the record over, as in the old days, might a good way to re-engage music fans and maybe, just maybe, create some new ones.


Geoff Moore is a writer and advertising guy who lives in Calgary. He can’t appreciate ABBA, even ironically…

Rock Music and Pop Culture: What’s Puzzling You?

Has rock music become more widely accepted as culturally significant?  Or, has it been relegated to a series of cultural footnotes? Guest writer Geoff Moore muses on the more recent, seemingly prominent position that rock music and rock history has taken in the annals of popular culture: the nationally syndicated newspaper crossword puzzle clue…


Sure signs that the boomer generation is almost grown: Life magazine celebrated rock ‘n’ roll’s 40th and 50th anniversaries with special issues. Media doesn’t get much more mainstream than the once venerable and now defunct picture magazine. And the music itself, once in the vanguard of youth culture, has been relegated to a sub-genre by an industry scrabbling to rebuild its shattered business model in the digital age (Alas, all of the airplane glue was sniffed years ago). Rock ‘n’ roll is mere crossword puzzle clue fodder these days.

And that’s all right now, Mama. Especially if your Latin is rusty, your atlas out of date, your periodic table is for monthly poker games and your exposure to opera is limited to Bugs Bunny and the Marx Brothers. Because you need an ANKA when you’re ASEA on an ocean of ORR, ORE, OTT, ORTS, OKRA, OLIO and OLEO. Crossword puzzles are elegant and esoteric; patterned grids demanding to be filled in through knowledge, recall, intuition and blind guesswork. And cheating.

They can be eerily synchronous. If the grid teaches you a new proper noun, that person, place or thing will be an item in the newspaper the next day or mentioned in the novel you’re reading. The music clue is playing on the radio. Crosswords are as addictive as drugs and alcohol and almost as much fun.

‘One of two cars besides a Cadillac named in Springsteen’s “Pink Cadillac'” was 5 down on the New York Times puzzle a few Saturdays ago. Six letters. Like asking a metallurgist about alloys or a doctor about symptoms. Oh, it was the beginning of a fine, fine day.

The most popular rock group in the crossword world is the Electric Light Orchestra, ELO. On a Monday or Tuesday the clue might read ‘”Evil Woman” grp.’ or ‘”Don’t Bring Me Down” grp.’ As the week progresses and the Times puzzle becomes more difficult with each new day, those same three letters may be elicited with something a little trickier to those who don’t read liner notes: ‘Bev Bevan’s band.’

REM could easily take the number two spot, unfortunately they answer to both ‘Murmur group’ and ‘_ sleep’ thereby halving their appearances. The Who are infrequent guests in the crossword perhaps because of the sequence or combination of letters in their handle – ironic as Pete Townshend took years to piece together his sci-fi rock opera about a grid. Proggie dinosaurs ELP and Yes apparently, and mercifully, have no fans among puzzle makers.

The Rolling Stones’ biggest songs are ‘_ Is On My Side,’ ‘Time _ Side’ and ‘Time Is On My _.’ Yet ANGIE’s (‘1973 no. 1’) kisses may still taste sweet after so much time has passed so many times. ‘Let It _’ always results in the simple, obvious and disappointing BE. ‘Let It _’ BLEED, RAIN, ROCK or SNOW sometime, please and thank you. And for Neil, rather than the too clever punning of ‘”Old Man” singer,’ how about ‘”F*!#in’ Up” singer’ just once? Just for laughs.

‘One-named singer.’ Sometimes it’s SADE or even BONO, but usually the answer is CHER. Though she had a memorable stint has the lead vocalist of Black Rose (Where have you gone, Les Dudek?), it’s really only the daily crossword puzzle that guarantees her immortality. Yoko Ono will not be remembered for her art or her deft way with a lyric. But she will always plug the gap in ‘John _ Lennon’ when WINSTON doesn’t fit.

And ONO is not to be confused with ‘Musician Brian’ ENO who is also the ‘Creator of the “Microsoft sound” played when Windows 95 starts.’ Encountering the common ‘Rocker John’ clue your mind always scrolls through surnames before concluding it’s ELTON. ‘Australian rock group’ is almost always ACDC unless it’s INXS, but never Mental As Anything.

And what of Ike Turner who may or may not be the father of rock ‘n’ roll? With the publication of ITINA (‘1986 Turner autobiography’) we learned that he wasn’t just a bad dude in the good sense, but a bad man of the sort whose actions seem to smear an entire gender. The man’s just not PC in these hyper-sensitive times. The three letter answer to ‘_ Turner’ is always NAT, a more significant, more complex and an even more difficult figure in American social history but distanced from us by centuries. When IKE is the answer, you know that for sure, the clue references the 34th President of the United States whose WWII command was, of course, the ETO.

Geoff ‘Bond actor Roger’ is relieved that ‘”Titanic” diva’ and her husband and Quebecor Inc. are not a component of the new ‘Mtl. team informally,’ ownership group. The dilemma of whether or not to buy all of her CDs or hang himself has been deferred indefinitely.

Geoff Moore is a writer based in Calgary, Alberta.

Chrome Dreams: Cars and Rock n roll

Once again, the Delete Bin is proud to welcome a guest post from writer and music fan, Geoff Moore.   This time, Geoff discusses one of the great rock talismans; the automobile.  From “Rocket 88”, to “the Little Deuce Coup”, to Neil Young’s custom Chrome Dream, the automobile has been more than just a machine to the rock fan.  It is has been a part of a grand tradition that celebrates identity, freedom, and the ineffable feeling of what it is to be teenager, even if you’re not…


Detroit muscle has atrophied since the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. The Oldsmobile, praised in ‘Rocket 88,’ arguably the first rock song, is an extinct though immortal American beast. Noted economist and Michigan native Bob Seger saw it coming as far back as 1982. Shame nobody ever spun Seger’s ‘Makin’ Thunderbirds’ for the Big Three CEOs*. However, it’s no surprise that one of rock ‘n’ roll’s earliest numbers was written about a car. Though it’s been ticking nearly 60 years, the rock ‘n’ roll heart remains eternally teenaged, the scion of the more world-weary blues. And teenagers, especially guys, are in love with their cars.

Train imagery, common in rock ‘n’ roll because of its musical roots and influences, is synonymous with older genres of American expression, country, folk and blues, all of which existed when rail travel was a way of life. In song, the train is about arrival, but mostly departure and almost always suggestive of vast distances. Boxcars west-bound through the Dust Bowl to the Big Rock Candy Mountain, Pullman coaches rattling north from Memphis to Chicago on lines of burnished steel, engines chugging, hauling their cargoes of lonesome migrants.

The automobile is rock ‘n’ roll’s train, flashy, individualistic, thoroughly modern and free to follow any road. The rock ‘n’ roll car, as subject, symbol, icon and metaphor, resonates with its younger, yearning, aspiring audience: ‘That car’s fine lookin’, man/It’s something else.’

There’s a scene in Taylor Hackford’s 1987 documentary homage Hail! Hail! Rock N’ Roll where Chuck Berry explains to the director that he was fully aware his audience was composed mainly of teenagers and purposely wrote about topics that would interest them. ‘Riding around in my automobile, my baby beside me, at the wheel…’ (For a soul-trembling adult update on Berry’s ‘No Particular Place to Go’ motif, seek out Smokey Robinson’s silky and sophisticated ‘Cruisin” and ease the seat back as far as it will go. Park first though.)

Brian Wilson understood his contemporaries. If he wasn’t writing about surfing, obsessing about his weight or struggling to compose his “teenage symphony to God“, life on the coast was all about getting around. After ‘Born to Run’ went supernova in 1975 and the inevitable backlash swelled, the facile dismissal of the Boss was that he just wrote songs about cars. Well, that’s sort of the point of it all, isn’t it? Neil Young’s latest record is a concept album about his home-grown, erm, home-made hybrid car. This from a guy who wrote ‘Long May You Run’ so it’s not a shock, but still, a fan worries about Shakey’s pot intake.

The car figures much less prominently in British rock ‘n’ roll. Perhaps because the music was an import, a final Lend-Lease transaction between a wealthy and prosperous ally and its battered and austere comrade-in-arms. If the United States executive has learned anything from the Civil War and the ensuing Reconstruction, it’s that wars are best fought a long, long way from home, away from America’s existing infrastructure. This has been the case ever since, a boon of the country’s geography.

In the States, the post-war wham-boom-bam! signed, sealed and delivered Herbert Hoover’s 1928 campaign promise of “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” By contrast, on V-E Day, Britain wasn’t in much better shape than her defeated enemies. Rationing there lasted a full nine years following the cessation of the Second World War.

The Old World is just that; olde.

Small countries with cities and towns haphazardly mapped out by medieval planners connected by roads originally surveyed by Roman engineers. When the first mass-produced automobile came off the line in Detroit in 1908, the republic was just 132-years-old, fresh out of the box with the ribbon and wrapping paper still crumpled beside it on the carpet. You’re struck by the absurd notion that Henry Ford and his Model T have had a more direct influence on the evolution of the United States than the Founding Fathers and their Constitution – America was created by drivers and for drivers.

Or maybe, baby, a Frazer Nash Sebring simply doesn’t quite spark the muse like an Oldsmobile 88, a little deuce coupe, a little red Corvette, a ’69 Chevy with a 396, a long black Cadillac or even a pink one.

Though a vehicle for teen melodrama and tragedy in hits like ‘The Last Kiss’ and ‘Dead Man’s Curve,’ the American automobile otherwise came as advertised. A chariot of deliverance with a V-8 motor and lots of chrome. The promise of a car, any car, is limitless: a simple Saturday night joyride, a Main Street cruise, the Don Quixote tilting of a street race and beyond the outskirts of town, out there in the darkness somewhere along Route 66, maybe a different destiny for the driver.

But the best thing about the rock ‘n’ roll car is that there’s always room for another rider up front. And the open door, the warm and beckoning interior with the radio playing, is the only sure-fire way to attract the fundamental, the elemental, the very essence of rock ‘n’ roll itself; the lover.

* Seger defended his later decision to allow Chevrolet to use ‘Like a Rock’ in its truck commercials by rationalizing that if his song helped GM sell more trucks, his core hometown audience working on the assembly line would ultimately benefit.


Geoff is a writer who lives in Calgary Alberta, and is the author of the novel Murder Incorporated. Geoff Moore has a class 7 driver’s license, which is a learner’s permit. He is 49-years-old. Sad, really.


The Kinks Perform ‘You Really Got Me’

kinksthekinksListen to this song by Muswell Hill Londoners and first-tier British Invasionists The Kinks, and a vital, dare I say important, track to the trajectory of rock music it is.  It’s their smash breakthrough hit “You Really Got Me”, a slice of proto-metal R&B that changed the way rock music sounded forever.

This song is a towering titan of a single, one of those tunes you’d submit to an alien civilization to give them an idea of what rock n roll is.  Everything about it screams danger, celebration, and carnality, all of which are all key ingredients in any rock song.  It was released as a single in the UK,  the group’s third, where it scored the number 1 spot in August 1964.  Later, the song made a significant impact in North America too, reaching number 7 on the charts.  It was added to the band’s debut album, the Kinks.

For such a high-profile hit single,  there has been a lot of mystery surrounding who played on it and how the sheer ferocity of the sound was achieved.  For years, it was surmised that the scorching, string-bending guitar solo, one of the greatest solos ever recorded in my opinion, was played by one Jimmy Page.

It’s true that Page was an active session player at the time, and had played on a number of singles contemporary of this one.  It’s true too that session players had sat in on Kinks sessions before.  But, that solo was played by seventeen year old Dave Davies, brother of songwriter and lead singer Ray Davies.   Page himself insisted that he didn’t play the solo, only to be disbelieved.  Maybe the solo sounds too “Pagey” for aficionados to have believed anything otherwise.  Or maybe it’s too incredible that a seventeen year old could play such a perfect, even if not technically great, solo.  It still gives me chills every time I hear it.

And as for that crunchy guitar sound, which is a far cry from what most guitars sounded like in 1964, it came about in a rock n roll fashion even before anyone hit a note.  Dave Davies vandalized his amp, slicing a speaking cone with a razor, and poking a pin through it, to see how the sound would change.  And hence, was the distortion effect created, one that would arguably influence the way the guitar was approached and understood by both listeners and players.

Since the Kinks cut this tune, it’s been heavily covered by acts like the 13th Floor Elevators,  Mott the Hoople, and Robert Palmer, not to mention the thousands of garage bands, wedding bands, high-school bands, whoever, who took this song and made it a part of their repertiore.  Van Halen recorded this song, along with another Kinks favourite “Where Have All the Good Times Gone?”.  And for years, many music fans in seeing Ray Davies perform the song solo, would congratulate him on his version of the ‘Van Halen song’, much to his amusement.

I don’t think this song can be overestimated in its importance to the evolution of rock music.  After this song, the mannered element in a lot of rock music made in Britain was a thing of the past.   This song activated a requirement for texture in rock, of greater force in attack, and with a more dangerous sound.  From here, there was no turning back.

For more information about the Kinks, check out TheKinks.Org


The Handsome Furs Perform ‘I’m Confused’

Listen to this storming bit of post-punk from Montreal’s The Handsome Furs.  It’s their song “I’m confused” as taken from their upcoming Face Control album, released next month.

You can hear the Joy Divison in this a little bit, in the best way, particularly the earlier incarnation of that band, when the abrasiveness of punk rock was still a major textural element.  I love the roaring guitar against the synth lines, and the yelping vocals which harken back to a certain period in pop history, yet also sounds fresh.

It’s a generalization, but music out of Montreal always sounds more European than music made in any other region of the country.  And now, the scene there is getting international attention as well, with Broken Social Scene, Stars, and the Dears having paved the way.

This is a new track for me, and it’s been delivered by CBC Radio 3, who seem to really understand the power of non-targeted programming and social media in modern radio.  There is life beyond Clear Channel, at least up here in Canada, good people.  This is our tax dollars put to work, in the best sense.

This is the first in a series, in which I will attempt to feature at least one cool band from Canada every week, so that you non-Canucks out there can hear the music, buy the music, and get that we’re one of the most talented nations on earth for vital rock and pop music.

Enjoy, eh!