Posts Tagged ‘Bow Wow Wow’

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Fancy Plans Guide to Rock and Roll

September 19, 2009

Rivers Cuomo finally trims the band down to just the "important" members.

Rivers Cuomo finally trims the band down to just the "important" members.

[With Volume 10 of the Fancy Plans Guide to Rock and Roll headed your way early next week, I thought it might be fun and self-satisfying to re-up the original. It was never intended to be a series, but people started making requests and, oddly enough, I actually started fulfilling them. I’m still way behind on the requests, but as Abe Vigoda is fond of saying, “I ain’t dead yet.” Enjoy. (Originally published on May 13th, 2009.)]

Here at Fancy Plans… we are often asked the question, “What is rock?” We reply, “Well, what are you listening to now?” The answer comes back, “It sounds like rock.” And our answer comes back, “It sounds like suck!”

Secure in our superiority, we retire to the bar, down several shots, head home alone and cry ourselves to sleep. Usually to Sigur Ros or some other depressing Nordic band. Unless we feel like murdering our friends and burning down a church. Then it’s Dimmu Borgir.

But enough about us. It’s time for some Rock and Roll 101. Remember, we do take requests. Just put them in the comment box.

Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch
Fronted by an underwear ad, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch succeeded in putting the “fun” back in “funky.” Tragically, they completely failed to put the “funk” back in “funky,” creating a sound that can only be described as “funy,” a made-up word that means nothing but sums up the group perfectly. Marky Mark went on to be a successful actor dues to his enormous prosthetic penis.

New Kids on the Block
Much like other “new” bands (Riders of the Purple Sage, Christy Minstrels, Order), there’s nothing remotely new about these kids. They’re still the same old kids who’ve annoyed you ever since they were old enough to leave their yards.

Remember, a few Christmases ago, when they showed up on your doorstep, bursting with four-part harmonies and well-rehearsed choreography? And you said, “Would you youngsters like some hot cocoa?” and while they were nodding enthusiastically, you hurled the cocoa into their freshly scrubbed faces? Ho ho ho!

Well, if you do remember would you care to indicate that by marking an “x” in this box and signing the bottom of this statement?

The Alan Parsons Project
Supplies:
– 16 Popsicle Sticks
– 4 Pipe Cleaners
– Intergalactic Spaceship (ask your parents for permission)
– Dry Macaroni Noodles
– Magic Markers
– Psychedelics (ask your older brother)

The Strokes
Grandpa’s favorite band, or at least he thinks so now, when he isn’t catching strange scents or ordering “strangers” like you out of his house. He used to tell you war stories but all he does now is argue with the television, occasionally stopping to yell, “Listen to me, you motherfucking beanpole. I don’t know who you are or where you got that haircut, but get the fuck out of my house! Your skinny tie reeks of purple.”

Awwww. Don't you just want to eat him up?

Awwww. Don't you just want to eat him up?

Eminem
As popular as his namesake and twice as sweet. Cute-as-a-button blonde candy coating with a dark chocolate core of blustering misogyny. Melts in your mouth, not your hands, ladies.

Pet Shop Boys
PETA’s least favorite band. Chock full of glittery synths, intelligent lyrics and a wardrobe to die for. If the Boys ever covered Venus in Furs covered in fur, several hundred angry protesters would show up and try to reconcile their hatred of furs with their respect for gay celebs and little red ribbons. Heads would explode.

Or perhaps, PETA will again take the low road and pimp out some objects (excuse me, models) to stand around nakedly protesting, thus ensuring press coverage both legitimate (AP) and bastardized (hello, Internet!). Possibly NSFW.

Led Zeppelin
Early pioneer of the heavy metal spirit, Led Zeppelin is perhaps best known for their song We Fucked a Groupie with a Shark. Amongst their other achievements: exposing youngsters to Satanism, Whitesnake, and founding member Peter Jackson’s movie career, which finally allowed the band’s Tolkien love to blossom fully.

the Sex Pistols
Formed by Malcolm McLaren as yet another London sex shop, the Sex Pistols inadvertently became a band. They were briefly popular and reached their pinnacle when they serenaded Queen Elizabeth on her 103rd birthday. Frank Sinatra nodded his approval.

Tragedy would befall the band as bassist Sid Vicious fell in with the wrong crowd and began murdering his girlfriends. Fortunately, his lack of personal hygiene and crippling heroin addiction stopped him at one, a Miss Chloe Webb. Malcolm McLaren went back to running both sex shops and his mouth, pausing briefly to photograph naked 15-year olds.

Carter, the Unstoppable Sex Machine
Current favorites in the mostly British arch-off, along with Certified Balsa artist Fatima Mansions and undeniably popular Blur. As Blur has dropped their class warfare angle to concentrate on world music, animated side projects and screwing Justine Frischmann, this leaves Carter USM (Shopper’s Paradise, Sealed with a Glasgow Kiss) in a neck-and-neck race with underdog Fatima Mansions (Only Losers Take the Bus, Blues for Ceausescu).

A dark horse candidate has appeared out of the US, though. It’s Negativland and their piss-take of U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. And here come the lawyers! Stay tuned!

(Or not, with the exception of Blur, none of these bands are still producing music.)

Lemmy, under the influence of nearly goddamned everything, is suddenly entrance by his "massive" hands.

Lemmy, under the influence of nearly goddamned everything, is suddenly entranced by his "massive" hands.

Motorhead
Fronted by Quentin “Lemmy” Kilmister, former contributor to space rock pioneers, Hawkwind. Lemmy (Quentin to his mum) wished to head towards a more straightforward metal sound while founding member, Jethro Tull, was more than happy to prance around playing his flute.

Lemmy fought long and hard for his release from the label, finally forcing their hand with his refusal to comply with their sideburn policy.

KISS
The founding members of KISS met at a Kabuki class at an upstate New York Montessori school. They soon took their love of rock and roll and stage makeup to the next level, forming KISS in 1972. The original lineup included Gene Simmons (born Chaim Witz), Ace Frehley (Alfred Carlson Entemann), Peter Criss (Christopher Peter Rasmussenjinsenn) and Vinnie Vincent (Vincent Vincent, III Esq.)

Fortune and fame came quickly. Gene Simmon’s tongue and little black book became the stuff of legends (apparently, he is quite the master storyteller and writes down his dreams for later interpretation). In 1996, Gene Simmons was given an honorary doctorate from the University of Chicago, thus temporarily making him “Dr. Love,” until his title was bestowed on Dr. Drew.

Alice Cooper
During his formative years as a member of the high school tennis team, Alice Cooper (born Vincent Damon Furnier) suffered a debilitating case of tennis-lesbianism. While recuperating (or should I say, “recooperating”), Vincent took a long trip to Sweden and returned as Alice Cooper, rock star. (I guess I won’t say that. It’s ridiculous.)

Much like your former uncle, Aunt Patricia, whose house you never get to visit anymore. Which is too bad because s/he was giving you free tennis lessons. Oh, well. We all wish her the best as she continues to climb the levelled playing field.

Cynthia Plastercaster
Not specifically a rock star, although she does know a great many of them and could probably pick them out of a crowded, darkened, half-dressed room. Ironically, Cynthia’s start can be explained by a malaprop caused by a gardening accident suffered at an early age.

The story is that Cynthia approached Jimi Hendrix backstage and asked to be “a fanclub of his member.” Jimi was delighted by this play on words and gave her some suggestions as to what she could do with Jimi’s jimmy.

Another anecdote adds to her considerable legend. Apparently, a young George Lucas received a backstage pass to a New Christy Minstrels show. While touring behind the scenes, George happened across Cynthia, working from her normal plaster-castering position. As a 31-year old virgin, Lucas was confused and thought that this was her actual height. This image, combined with her eccentric speech patterns, stuck with Lucas and was the inspiration for the character Yoda.

Please stay tuned for future installments as events warrant.

-CLT

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Fancy Plans Guide to Rock and Roll Vol. 8

August 1, 2009

And now, a series that needs no introduction…

I honestly don't see how anybody could poke fun at this.

I honestly don't see how anybody could poke fun at this.

Vampire Weekend
The next big thing, according to everybody everywhere, Vampire Weekend are the refinement of all the most pretentious parts of hipster touchstones, such as: Paul Simon, the Talking Heads and hippie apparel store background music. As this indie world music band began its meteoric rise to stardom, they became increasingly unbearable. Now safely coasting on its laurels, Vampire Weekend is primed for its slide into “legacy act,” a restful state of listlessness, no doubt hurried along by its incessant public fellation by mainstream tastemakers such as Rolling Stone, Spin and Pitchfork. (Yeah, don’t kid yourselves.)

No doubt the release of a new album will only encourage the mass fellatio, allowing them to pass Obama in the number of times they’ve heard “Use me like a filthy congressman.” Unless they make a Goo Goo Dolls-esque leap into power balladry or discover how hard it is for someone to say “poly-rhythmic” withtheir mouth full, Vampire Weekend should continue to raid Paul Simon’s record collection and liquor cabinet for years to come.

I think we all preferred them back in the day, when David Lowery was still an integral member and they performed under the name “Vampire Can Mating Oven.”

Another fine selection from the "Malcolm McLaren Collection of Arrestable Art"

Another fine selection from the "Malcolm McLaren Collection of Arrestable Art"

Bow Wow Wow
Another one of Malcom McLaren’s projects (after holstering his Sex Pistols) which allowed him to take nude photos of his underage lead singer and file it under Art, Album. (If it’s an album cover, it’s beyond reproach, apparently.) Their biggest hit was I Want Candy, which made a mockery of sex offender laws with its open baiting of cargo van owners everywhere.

Fortunately (mostly for Malcolm) this was done in a more permissible time before our teenagers’ incessant sexting made child pornographers out of many unsuspecting parents. Many people were able to pick up the album without having to mail order it in a plain brown wrapper or register with the county after opening it.

Karen Carpenter, in happier times

Karen Carpenter, in happier times

The Carpenters
Breaking into the soft rock scene with their hit single Close to You(well, not “breaking” really; they actually knocked first and politely asked if it would be ok to come in and play a couple of their songs, if that was “cool” with everybody), the Carpenters began an impressive run of hit singles and skipped meals.

Never content to rest on their laurels (out of concern for the laurels, poor things!), the Carpenters continued boldly into the future with both hands grasping wildly at the past. They toured tirelessly, entertaining thousands of politely seated concert-goers nationwide.

The endless touring and soft rocking began to take its toll. During the Carpenter’s 1982 Rock You Like a Pleasant Breeze tour, Karen Carpenter frequently found herself pinned underneath her shadow on the stage, due to unexpected lighting changes.

She collapsed in her parents’ home after an attempt to close the screen door and was rushed to the hospital. On February 4, 1983, Karen Carpenter was declared dead when an intern mistakenly allowed her to turn sideways, at which point she vanished completely.

A panoramic shot featuring 1/4 of Chicago's touring band

A panoramic shot featuring 1/4 of Chicago's touring band

Chicago
Despite popular opinion, Chicago was not named after the city. The Chicago Chamber of Commerce often places unsolicited calls to Wikipedia to make sure that this is being made perfectly clear.

They are actually named after their favorite mode of transportation, the Chicago bus line, which had the vehicles large enough to carry their entire bloated band, which at times swelled to over 1,200 members. Plus, they actually came from nearby suburb Vernon Hills, so their claim to Chicago’s name and street-tough history was about as legitimate as Vanilla Ice’s claim of being raised on the mean streets of Miami.

Setting out to be the “worst band in rock and roll” by ensuring an unhealthy ratio of non-rock instruments, Chicago worked the bar circuit for years before their recorded debut in 1969. Chicago-area bar owners breathed a sigh of relief as booking the massive band often meant they had reached capacity before any paying fans even had the chance to get in the door.

Being the “worst band in rock and roll” took a heavy toll on the band and extensive touring often found various members on the disabled list and Peter “Et” Cetera scouting the local talent for a replacement “5th Trombonist” or “Backup Vocalist #8 – Verbs Only.”

But as all proud “rock” bands do, they kept on keepin’ on. Ceteradid all he could to retain the “worst” title by his dalliance with Amy “Whore of Babylon” Grant and his refusal to use anything more than a mixture of Roman numerals and “real” numbers to name their albums. (Exception: Hot Streets, which was their XIIth album.)

The “worst” remained the best at being the worst, running virtually unopposed for several years until Jefferson Starship wrested the title away from them with the release of We Built This City (On Suck). Chicago (the “rock” band, not the city – thanks, City of Chicago Chamber of Commerce) was never the same again. Cetera left the group, claiming that he had “done all the damage he could.”

So who is the current holder of the “worst” title in rock today? With so many front-runners, it’s hard to pick one. (Nickelback.)

Digposter

Not to be confused with Digg! which contains no artistic merit whatsoever

Brian Jonestown Massacre/Dandy Warhols
Two bands whose fate is forever intertwined thanks to Ondi Timoner’s rockumentary Dig! and his follow-up, Holes, which went down a much more commercial path by straying from the original subject matters (much like Dandy Warhols themselves.)

Originally BFFs, both bands had the same original ambition: to have a really clever band name. The Brian Jonestown Massacre combined Brian Jones (whose deathkicked off a 30-year period where you couldn’t step out the door without tripping over a cooling rock star corpse) with the Kool Aid guzzling hi-jinks of the Jonestown Massacre (which kicked off a still-ongoing trend where you can’t step out the door without tripping over a cooling religious fanatic’s corpse).

The Dandy Warholswent in a much more upbeat direction withtheir band name, combining Dandy with the name of Portland’s famous Warhol’s Dinner Theatre, whose “fine dining” and “outrageous antics” are not for the weak of heart. Or stomach. On the other hand, the Soup of the Day is pretty consistent.

The BJM, with their antagonistic name, and the Dandy Warhols, with their inadvertent play on artist Andy Warhol’s name originally presented a united front as the revolution of music. They also both claimed the Velvet Underground as an influence, which put them in the exclusive group of every fucking band ever. At least the BJM followed through on it.

The Dandy Warhols, however, soon realized that they were operating several levels above their pay grade and began to tentatively return the embrace of the mainstream. Once it was clear that the feeling was mutual, the Warhols threw caution (and credibility) to the wind and proposed on the spot to their many suitors. Tragically, most of these suitors operated on the “use ’em and lose ’em” policy, cutting the Warhols an alimony check before leaving them alone, jealous and stoned. (Hello, Secret Machines!)

The Dandy Warhols did have the good fortune and lack of self-respect to be picked up immediately on the rebound, starting the vicious circle over and over again. Their mom keeps hoping they’ll finally find Mr. Right, but has sort of resigned herself to fielding late-night phone calls and making emergency Ben & Jerry’s runs.

The BJM went in a different direction. They wanted nothing less than a full-on music revolution. Their first step was to form antagonistic relationships with label after label. A&R men and label execs were treated to Ike and Tina Turner-type dustups and subjected to long lists of demands, like “full creative control,” “studio selection” and “a hoverbus for tours.”

Another point of contention was the pay scale: BJM frontman Anton Newcombe argued, unsuccessfully, that they should be making more as every band member was a “multi-instrumentalist.” The execs frequently mooted this point by stating (yet again) that their “royalties were based on record sales, not on number of instruments played.” They further pointed out that “all the talent and artistic integrity in the world won’t sell any records, and unless your name is Prince, we honestly could give a shit how many instruments you play.”

As the Warhol’s success increased, BJM began to complain that their former friends had sold them out. Astute observers reputed this by pointing out that:

a.) the Warhols sold themselves out; and
b.) the world does not revolve around BJM; that’s called “projection.”

BJM went on to make a metric shitload of records, flying bitterly and jadedly under the radar. The Dandy Warhols continued to splash around the in main stream, being fairly successful and losing their right to be described using interesting adjectives.

The lesson to be learned from this tale: Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in. Don’t expect to get paid for it, though. And: If you must whore yourself out, at least get paid well for it. Because an amateur whore is just a slut.

You may be asking “All else being equal, which one is the band for me?” The answer is: Go with whichever band name appeals to you more. You’ll probably be right.

-CLT

Previous episodes here: the RockNRoll Archives