The Fancy Plans Guide to Rock & Roll Vol. 12

December 5, 2009

It’s been awhile since the last volume of the never-ending Guide to Rock & Roll. The last time we gathered to enjoy libelous tales of the has-beens and never-weres of the rock world, we tackled only requests. This time around there isn’t a request to be found. It’s not because I don’t take requests. It’s more likely due to my scattershot posting schedule, shortened attention span and mandatory attendance of several premature funerals for rock and roll.

At this point, Oates knew the relationship was over, both with Hall and MTV itself.

Hall & Oates
1/2 moustache, 1/2 blond, Hall & Oates epitomized 80’s pop in a way few others did, except possibly Wham!, whom they were often confused with. The parallel chart success of this pair of duos saw tanned and well-rested men jousting for the affection (and money) of “the ladies.”

They deployed every weapon imaginable, including smoldering good looks (Wham!, Hall & Oates), short shorts (Wham!), moustaches (Oates) and prolific hitmaking, all despite being saddled with an underperforming partner (Andrew Ridgley, John Oates).

Once their made-for-VH1 meteoric rises and falls were over (“falls” being more accurate, especially when handcuffed to “meteoric” by some hack blogger), it became apparent that only one band was truly in it for “the ladies.” (Not Wham!) However, the information came too late to affect anything more than their respective solo careers (except for Andrew Ridgley, who ran down today’s specials for me at the local Outback).

George hid his anger well, but he had specifically told Paul to dry his guitar on "Delicate."

George Harrison
Known as the “fifth Beatle,” after being displaced by Yoko Ono and Linda McCartney, respectively, Harrison nonetheless had a successful and prolific solo career which spanned over 20 years. Famed for his combination of psychedelia and folk rock, Harrison proved that there is life beyond the Beatles (although not so much for Lennon) and enjoyed some chart success (although not as much as Paul McCartney, who was upgraded to “The Only Beatle”).

In addition to his musical contributions, Harrison was also known for:

  • Not being Ringo.
  • Not shoving his vegan ideals down his touring bands’ throats.
  • Impressive facial hair.
  • Being slightly smaller than Jesus.

Human League shortly before their defeat at the hands of Tyrell Corp.'s More Human Than Human League.

Human League
As one of the forerunners of the New Romantic movement, Britain’s Human League found itself defending its turf (and pedigree) against all comers, including the Anti-Nowhere League, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and the newly-minted (and freshly dead) Zombie Nation.

They enjoyed a seven-year run on top of the musical heap before succumbing to hair metal, synthpop backlash and internal wrangling (which is not so much a reference as an indication that more people should be listening to Clinic).

As the band slowly fell apart, their legacy lived on with multiple appearances on 80’s compilation and the Grand Theft Auto:Vice City soundtrack, which would mark the only time 50 million people purchased the (Keep Feeling) Fascination single, which came bundled with a lawsuit-baiting, open-world murder simulator.

Iron Butterfly, featuring (clockwise from top) Guy Pearce, Matthew Broderick, Steve Zahn and Steve Coogan.

Iron Butterfly
Known for a single track (In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida) which spanned three albums due to the space limitations of vinyl. Their monstrous hit song was one of the first singles to “go platinum,” albeit in a stripped-down three-minute version, which trimmed off nearly 90 minutes of psychedelic excess.

The track’s title (loosely translated by Hooked on Phonics as “In the Garden of Eden“) was a staple of their live shows, thanks to its sprawling length, which gave each band member a chance to dick around while their audience members retrieved their drugs, took their drugs or purchased more drugs.

During their brief heyday, the average Iron Butterfly set list looked like this:

1. Intro
2. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Encore (In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida [reprise])

Having paved the way for mainstream awareness of psychedelic hard rock, Iron Butterfly abruptly lost all relevance and faded into obscurity, leaving behind an overwrought back catalog, which proved useful for seed-and-stem sorting.

As his music career faded, Rick James hit the tour circuit as a Whoopi Goldberg impersonator.

Rick James
Rick James (born Dave Chappelle) took the late ’70s funk scene by storm with his hit single Superfreak, which set the stage for the brief flareout of a “career” that was the Reverend MC Hammer. Following his own blueprint for brief success followed by spectacular failure, James made some runs at chart success with a few other, less sample-worthy singles before deciding to follow his true calling: drug addiction.

After joining nearly every other musician ever in eventual irrelevance, Rick James briefly lifted his head from the dusted mirror to release an album in the mid-’90s, approximately 15 years after anyone gave a shit. Unable to produce the “skills” to pay the “legal bills,” James returned to obscurity and blow, taking with him his talent (which at this point was as weak as the 3/4-baby laxative blend “coke,” whose possession resulted in immediate arrest).



  1. Dear Professor,

    Progressive would indicate something going somewhere. I guess that means that we don’t define any of the listed groups / singers as progressive? And I find it interesting that you’re providing nostalgic mustache rides!

    • I think Iron Butterfly fancied themselves “progressive.” And like most “progressive” rock groups, they mainly wandered around in circles.

      The moustache rides are for those who want to sow their wild Oates.

      Great to see you again, Claire. It’s been awhile.

  2. Oh, where do I go with this comment? I could talk about the artists and music, but you’ve already adroitly and eloquently done that. I could re-quote you, which is a favorite type-o-comment of mine because it only requires cutting and pasting with minimal typing, while also flattering you with your own verbiage. I could feign dysphoria at you not mentioning George Michael’s brilliant solo career, hair and song writing skills, but that would be disingenuous. We could go on an aberrant Rick James/Dave Chappelle/Whoopi Goldberg/drug reference roller coaster which would probably end somewhere around George Clinton or maybe even Bill Clinton and stop dead on Amy Winehouse’s doorstep. But I always do the drug thing. I can’t think of a way to make a list out of this, and I do far too much of that shit anyway. Damn, such funny, fantastic writing and research and I have nothing to say.

    Ooh, I do have something; I seriously had no clue that Mathew Broderick was even a musician much less in Iron Butterfly.

    • I shorted George Michael for a good reason: I was all out of quality public restroom jokes.

      Thanks for the wonderfully long comment, which was a pleasant surprise following your opening statement about being all out of commenting material.

      I was surprised by the makeup of Iron Butterfly as well. I guess an actor has to start somewhere when not waiting tables at the nearest overpriced eatery.

  3. I’m just glad you were able to show the Hall and Oates breakup was amicable and they could spit everything 50/50, very descent of you.

    • Ha!

      Yes, they were awarded 50% each of the animated MTV logo. It was presided over by an astronaut and delivered in front of a bluescreen.

  4. So the folks in The League Human were all ‘skin jobs’? That totally is Steve Zahn, btw. Funny shit CLT.

    • Bladerunner is everywhere, man. At least that’s what I’ve been told by my favorite coke fiends.

      Coogan and Pearce were a stretch but that is fuckin’ Steve Zahn right there, and what looks like a pre-Ferris Broderick.

      Thanks for the visit, FJ.

  5. Two music-related questions for you:
    1) What do you think of Lightspeed Champion?
    2) Stereolab is supposed to be great, but I think they suck. Is it me or them?

    • 1) Have no opinion. Have not heard of them. Let me answer with a question: what do you think about the Crocodiles?

      2) I’ve only heard a couple of tracks of theirs that I like and one of them was a collaboration with Nurse with Wound (“Simple Headphone Mind”). Sometimes influential doesn’t necessarily mean enjoyable.

    • Crocodiles? It seems you have your ear to the ground, as always…

      The one on Craig Ferguson is usually funny.

      They sound like they should have been included on the Lost in Translation soundtrack, which means two things: 1) they are pretty good 2) you probably like them.

    • The Crocodiles are from your neck of the woods, so to speak, since there are no woods in that general area…

      I’ll have to check out Lightspeed Champion as the Lost in Translation soundtrack was very, very good. Touched by the hand of Kevin Shields then?

    • Apologies for my lack of clarity. The mention of Lost in Translation was in reference to the Crocodiles. Lightspeed Champion sounds like Vampire Weekend after a much needed apprenticeship under Jarvis Cocker.

      By the way, our valleys are full of beautiful Poison Oak groves.

    • Alright. It feels good to be on the same page.

      Yes, I like the Crocodiles and yes, they would have fit nicely on the Lost in Translation soundtrack.

      I checked out a few tracks by Lightspeed Champion and your description pretty much nails his sound down. I was mainly surprised by the fact that he was a member of the Test Icicles.

      Sorry about besmirching the rep of the poison oak. Color me blotchy red with embarrassment.

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