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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Overrated and Underrated (70s)

Last week I was involved, once again, in a healthy debate over how overrated I think The Eagles are.  The band that is, not the hideous football team.  That team cannot be overrated until they win a Super Bowl.  Since college the only books I have read have been rock biographies.  Other than Jacob Slichter's amazing So You Think You Wanna Be a Rock n Roll Star, which details his time in the 90s band Semisonic, only one other memoir stuck in my brain.  It was Don Felder's Heaven and Hell: My Life in The Eagles.  Mind you, it is but one person's account of his time in the multi-faceted and ultra-successful monster that was/is The Eagles.  But his insights into the workings of the band, and in particular his characterizations of Glenn Frey and Don Henley as as heavy handed control freaks, stayed with me.

Frey and Henley's biggest crime, in my opinion, is not giving Felder enough credit (or any for that matter) for creating the guitar line that became their signature song, "Hotel California."  Felder was a hired gun in their eyes.  The Eagles were an established act comprised of Frey/Henley.  All others should bow down and take what is given to them.  Oh, and smile while doing it too.  Felder was slighted.  Frey and Henley continue to make millions.  And somehow I keep getting more bitter and dismissing most, if not all, of their storied catalog.

It probably isn't fair and clearly I am in the minority.  But for this reason, and many others, like the terrible bores they call "The Long Run," "Take It to The Limit", "Witchay Woman", and "The Best of My Love", this band is high on my list of overrated musicians.

The 70s had so much to offer and THESE are the guys that still charge (and GET!) a shit-ton of money for their live shows?  Maybe a lot of that has to do with untimely deaths.  Gram Parsons had a nice alt country thing going long before the Eagles got their footing.  But, like many others, he died way too young.

The Allman Brothers Band still tour, but without Duane Allman and Dicky Betts.  I know many folks love Warren Haynes, but this act is not the group that created Eat a Peach.

Other 70s acts that fall into my overrated list include Pink Floyd- Their hits were terribly overplayed where I grew up and many are far too dark/moody.  People have told me I am not depressed enough to enjoy it.  Yes, you can appreciate the artist and still dismiss them.  Roger Waters is clearly a gifted talent and songwriter.  That doesn't mean I have to adore his every movement and listen to "Dark Side of The Moon"  ever again.  SNORE.

And sorry, if anyone tries to convince me that KISS is a viable music option I simply have to laugh.  There is nothing there at all, save for the make up and theatrics.  Give Gene Simmons credit for hanging on to Shannon Tweed for this long, but nothing else.  He, like his band's music, are an enormous waste.

That same decade provided many other acts who do not get their proper due.  For instance, The Cars are an act that made brilliant records that fail to get the recognition they deserve.  These New Wave rockers from New England have an impressive catalog and a sound that defines late 70s America.  Candy-O (1979) is a seminal album with a laundry list of hits.  "Let's Go" is a raucous mix of synth, guitar and sing along party rock.  Clapping can be pretty cheesy when incorporated into the mix.  Not here.  "It's All I Can Do" is a tale of love sung with the right amount of longing and affection by dearly departed (and VASTLY underrated) bassist/singer Benjamin Orr.  "Dangerous Type", with Rick Okasek handling vocals, is all attitude, bravado and serves as a stern warning.  "She's a lot like you/the dangerous type."  You know what he is talking about.

You could argue the amount of bands The Cars influenced equals, if not surpasses those that followed The Eagles flight plan.  Henley/Frey had good wholesome looks and easy going sounds that the ladies liked.  It was country music for the yuppie crowd.  Jackson Browne and Warren Zevon did it too, and much better.

The Cars were gawky nerds clearly making niche music that was on a different planet altogether.  They may never get in the disaster they call The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Real rock and roll fans know better.

How wrong am I?  Convince me otherwise?  Who else is overrated from the 70s?  Underrated?

Next up...  the 80s.

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