Browsing Tag

Eric Clapton

Career Killers: “Summer in Paradise” by the Beach Boys

To borrow a pro wrestling term, Mike Love has long been one of the best heels in rock ‘n roll.

Widely hated by critics, fans, media, liberals and even fellow Beach Boys (actual headline from Vice.com: “Mike Love is Kind of an Asshole”), Love is so despised that it’s arguably more rock ‘n roll to defend him rather than pile on with his many detractors. Indeed, if anyone could have an entire arena full of people chant “asshole” at him a la Vince McMahon or Roman Reigns, it’s Mike Love. A relentless self-aggrandizing self-promoter, the only thing you can say about him is that he’s not dripping with phoniness or fake sincerity like Brother Love.

In fact, like the best heels, he believes he’s justified in behaving the way he does — especially in his eternal quest for the credit he feels he deserves for the band’s success. Brian Wilson may have been the creative genius behind the band, but Love will argue that he should get as much, if not more credit than the erratic Wilson for keeping the band going and co-writing some of their best known songs. Whether it’s suing Wilson for royalties in court many times; inflating his role in the band’s great moments and minimizing his role in the less successful ones (sometimes doing both on the same thing – like criticizing Pet Sounds or Smile when they seemed like they’d be failures and then taking credit for both when they became acclaimed); or going Vince McMahon and firing Wilson and Al Jardine from the band in 2012 after what was otherwise a successful reunion tour, Love gets very little of his namesake emotion from critics, commentators and even fans of the Beach Boys. Heck, he once used the staid and formal atmosphere of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony to deliver a WWE-style promo talking trash about a bunch of bands and musicians that, until then, probably had nothing but respect for his band and everything it has accomplished.

And much like how WWE treats certain non-PG segments from the past like they never happened, that’s how the band views the Love-led 1992 album Summer in Paradise. I guess that’s understandable, considering Summer in Paradise ended the band as a creative force and turned it into a full-time touring/oldies act.

(more…)

Career Killers: “Paula” by Robin Thicke.

I wrote a review for Robin Thicke’s Paula when it first came out in 2014. I decided to revisit it for several reasons. 1) I’m lazy, 2) It was obvious, at the time, that this record would tank his career and 3) I see him every week as a judge on The Masked Singer and I can’t decide whether being on a hit show means that his career has recovered from this debacle of an album or if it’s confirmation that his musical career is over and that he’ll just be a reality show judge from here on out. In other words, did his album about one Paula (Patton) have the effect of turning him into another Paula (Abdul)?

In retrospect, “Blurred Lines” wasn’t the start of something great for Robin Thicke. It was the beginning of the end. And Paula ended up being the nail in the coffin.

(more…)

Career Killers: “On Every Street” by Dire Straits

There are two types of “one man bands” in rock music. There are literal examples like Nine Inch Nails, World Party or Five For Fighting, which each consist of one permanent member and are, essentially, solo vehicles in all but name. Foo Fighters started out as a one man band before Dave Grohl decided to make it into an actual group.

Then there are the bands where one member does, virtually, all of the work. John Fogerty was the primary songwriter, lead singer and lead guitarist for Creedence Clearwater Revival. Same with Kurt Cobain for Nirvana, Billy Corgan for Smashing Pumpkins and Syd Barrett for Pink Floyd. Meanwhile, The Cure’s Robert Smith sings, writes, plays guitar, bass, keyboards and other instruments, produces the albums, and decides who will stand with him on stage. Usually what happens is either the other members of the band get fed up and quit or the person in charge realizes he or she doesn’t need the others and goes solo.

For Dire Straits, both of those things happened.

(more…)

Career Killers: “St. Anger” by Metallica

It’s been said that great art comes out of great suffering or adversity. Eric Clapton produced his masterpiece, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs while nursing a crippling heroin addiction and hopelessly in love with his best friend’s wife. Francis Ford Coppola had a nervous breakdown and allegedly threatened to kill himself multiple times while filming his classic film, Apocalypse Now. Ludwig van Beethoven composed some of his best and most-admired works after going deaf and while suffering from terrible health problems. Vincent van Gogh was, perhaps, the archetype of the tortured artist, battling mental illness for most of his career (including the infamous episode where he cut off his own ear) and produced some of the most beloved paintings in history.

Of course, sometimes, great suffering or adversity ends up producing crap – crap so bad that the artist is never quite the same afterwards. Case in point: St. Anger by Metallica.

(more…)

Album Review: “Paula” by Robin Thicke

Robin Thicke’s “Paula” is the most interesting album of the year. And it might be one of the most interesting albums of the last decade.

That doesn’t mean it’s good. In fact, the album is extremely repetitive and difficult to listen to. With the subtlety of a jackhammer, Thicke bares his soul in 14 gut-wrenching songs, alternating between pitiful begging (to his soon-to-be-ex-wife, Paula Patton) and “TMI”-level introspection. It’s refreshing to hear an artist drop all pretenses and sing what’s on his or her mind- after all, it’s difficult to accept this as Thicke’s mea culpa unless he’s being open and honest about everything.

(more…)

Presence of the Lords – A Concert Review of Eric Clapton/Steve Winwood at MSG

Concert Review:

Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood

February 25, 2008

Madison Square Garden

The knock on Eric Clapton is that he plays to the level of the musicians around him. His best days were in bands, surrounded by the likes of John Mayall and John McVie in the Bluesbreakers, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker in Cream, Baker and Steve Winwood in Blind Faith, and Duane Allman, Bobby Whitlock, Jim Gordon and Carl Radle in Derek and the Dominos. As a solo artist, his albums and tours often turn into boring, uninspired affairs unless he’s collaborating with a talented musician that can push him, like a Mark Knopfler, a Stevie Ray Vaughan or a B.B. King.

Or a Steve Winwood. The two took part in the aforementioned Blind Faith, a supergroup whose hype far exceeded its actual output. The band, which began when Clapton and Winwood started hanging out after Cream and Traffic, their respective bands, broke up, was never intended to be anything more than an informal side project between two friends. Then Baker showed up and it turned into a “thing,” a “thing” that touched off a bidding war between record companies, a “thing” that caused riots to break out at their shows, and a “thing” that pushed Clapton away, causing said “thing” to die a premature death.

(more…)

Hello Old Friends? – A Concert Review of Cream at MSG

Concert Review:

Cream

October 25, 2005

Madison Square Garden

Irony must have played a part in Simon & Garfunkel’s decision to call their 2003 reunion tour the “Old Friends Tour.” After all, it was clear that, despite agreeing to work together once again, the pair hadn’t completely moved on from their decades-long feud. Concert reviewers detected a lack of warmth between the two, forced humor that was repeated at multiple shows (they did the “this is the 50th anniversary of the year we met, but the 47th anniversary of our first fight” joke in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., among others), and noted that Paul Simon looked like he’d rather sink another $6 million into a disastrous Broadway musical than give Garfunkel any praise or credit for his contributions to the group. The only way these two were really “Old Friends” would be if you used the word “old” to mean “former.”

Those shows were a veritable love-in compared to the Cream reunion.

(more…)