Last night at band practice, just up and out of the blue Jimmy ripped into the timeless riff to ZZ Top‘s “Just Got Paid.” Now, even though we all know that song is a product of 1972’s Rio Grande Mud record, here’s a clip of them kicking that song out live in 1980, when they were still cool.
This is a great song, and while we regularly rail against the loathesomeness of the current state of blues music, this is the kind of thing that our band can absolutely crush. It got us talking about the music of the 70s, and ZZ Top in particular. In 1983 is when their Eliminator record came out, which pretty much ruined them. Songs like “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Legs,” and “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” besides becoming overplayed staples of classic rock radio, really signified the end of the period where I find ZZ Top listenable. It’s like they became a joke band. Here’s another clip of them from back in the day, which is friggin’ fantastic.
What this vintage stuff conjures is spicy food, smoky roadhouse bars, and Mexican chicks shaking their big round booties until 4:00 AM. Dirty, greasy rock with a blues edge, all about fucking and being broke. And sticking it to the man. That is exactly what they’ve lost, too. Hell, it’s a big part of what music has lost. Remember when you didn’t have to be beautiful and jailbait in order to get a record deal? It’s a goddamn travesty, is what it is.
I mean look at this clip of Black Sabbath from back in the day. This stuff is just phenomenal, and these dudes have clearly all been well-beaten by the ugly stick. Back then, though, it didn’t matter. I love how drummer Bill Ward attacks the kit as if, as one commenter points out, it owes him money.
What about this, for crissakes?!
Jimmy Page could get away with wearing that horrible vest and still have groupies falling all over themselves to be defiled by him. Think about that a minute.
Our discussion last night, and thinking about it today, reminded me of a conversation Julia and I had after seeing the movie Midnight in Paris. The idea being that everything was better back in some past “golden age” that is different for all of us. For Owen Wilson’s character in the movie (which we both really enjoyed) it is Paris in the 20s, when Hemingway and Fitzgerald and Picasso and Gertrude Stein and Dali and all those people were there. He meets a woman from that time period who thinks the golden age was the turn of the century. And on and on. We all have our own ideas, don’t we?
If I had to pick, it’s the late 60s/early 70s. I’m not literary enough to have writerly heroes that draw me to their time period, but culturally, and the music . . . wow. A lot was going on that mattered and still resonates today. Not to mention all the free love, pre-AIDS. I mean, dig some of these clips. I would have KILLED to see some of these artists back in the height of their powers!
Look at Heart, for crissakes.
Then there is the Motor City Madman himself, Ted Nugent, absolutely destroying people.
There was a day when Bob Seger wasn’t remembered as a dude who sold freakin’ pickup trucks.
Believe it or not there was a time when Rod Stewart was as cool as it gets. I love this song so much it hurts.
What do all these artists have in common? I mean besides their flowing tresses, flying in the wind in all their hippy glory? They all pretty much totally suck now. When was the last time any of these people made any good music? I think Rod Stewart morphed with Sting, Phil Collins and Elton John to become one horrendously awful dude who would best be forgotten. It makes my head hurt.
Few bands from that era continue to stick to their guns making quality music. Motorhead and Iron Maiden, certainly, though they came into their own closer to the early 80s. A case can be made for Rush too, though their experimental periods have stretches that are pretty awful, and their music never had anything to do with anything remotely sexual. Nor does Maiden’s for that matter, but at least their stuff is rife with destruction and satanic references, so they get a pass. Anybody else? AC/DC, perhaps? They keep putting out the same record with varying degrees of success since 1975, and I can find more to like than not on every single release.
Well, these guys of course. They had become pretty much a novelty band until Sonic Boom came out, and, with another album in process, they’re obviously still going strong. They are also the reason I even care about music.
Anybody else feel like they missed the boat on a golden age for whatever it is you care about? I’m curious to know. . . .