the tanner ba'

Well, since you asked…

I have no idea, I just liked the picture.

I have no idea, I just liked the picture.

It turns out one of you did a have a few questions to ask me after all and I’m thrill to answer them.  They are great questions too- thanks to Joe F.!

1) What are a few of your all-time favorite bands that have meant the most to you, even if not as much today.

Nicely worded- favorite, but also meaningful to me?  That narrows it down nicely for me.  The first one is The Alarm.  I won’t bore you with details about the band- that’s what Wikipedia is for- but rather say that I “crossed paths” with them at an important time in my life.  The summer before my junior year of high school was a bleak one (normal teenage angst and emerging issues with depression) and I found them to a band that was unfailingly positive and hopeful, and I really needed that.  They were also important because they were the doorway through which I discovered punk and hardcore.  Finally, to this day they are the best live band I have ever seen by a wide margin.  You can get a little taste of their live prowess on “Electric Folklore Live,” and as a bonus you can listen to it knowing that I was in the audience for every track on it, either at the Wang Center or the Orpheum (both in Boston)!

The other band that fits that criteria is Minor Threat.  A hardcore band from my high school- the 5 Balls of Power- was “big” on the New England hardcore scene in the mid-80s and they used to cover a few Minor Threat songs (as well as Clash and CCR songs!) and that pointed me in the direction of Ian Mackaye & Co.  Not only did their music reach me on a visceral level- and what are teenagers if not viscerally focused?- but the “straight edge” ethos really spoke to me.  Straight edge would later be bastardized into some sort of Stalinist, dogmatic, preachy vegan nonsense by other bands, but what it said to me was basically- “If something doesn’t work for you, you don’t have to do it” and “stay away from anything, “whether it’s fucking or golf” as the lyric went,” that messes with your mind or makes you beholden to somebody else.”  As with the Alarm’s “message,” this was something I really needed to hear.

In an interesting- to me anyway!- side note to this: I once had a girlfriend who wrote to Ian to tell him how much his music had helped me and he sent me back a show flyer with a beautiful handwritten note on it (he still answers every note or email sent to him)- I still have it.

2) Any currently active and relevant bands you like/listen to, whether all-time fave or not?

A lot of bands I like are still active, but I think what you’re asking is if I like anything that those crazy young kids today like?  I think the best fit there is the Black Keyes.  I love there music and I love not only their reverence for the blues (one of my favorite genres), but also their “take” on it.  For example, if you don’t like this version of an R.L. Burnside song, you’re dead to me and you’re probably dead inside too.

A few more off the top of my head would be Scottish-Caribbean rapper Akala, the mostly instrumental Portuguese duo Dead Combo, Irish rockabilly singer Imelda May, I’m waiting with bated breath for the new Donnas album, Lanie Lane if her second album is as good as her first, I’m going to see Paul Weller in July, I’ve seen the Proclaimers and the Reverend Horton Heat in the last few months, and as one or two of you already know, I have a bit of a soft spot for Kelly Clarkson- didn’t see that one coming, did you?

3) Big fan of any of the other major US sports? Or any of the more “European” ones? Any guilty pleasures in there -maybe not a huge fan of, but like more than you’d care to admit?

As I’ve said here before, I’m a HUGE Red Sox fan and a baseball history buff, but not really a “baseball fan.”  By that I mean that you won’t catch me watching an A’s – Mariners game on a Saturday afternoon.

I’m a hockey fan so I’m really enjoying the Stanley Cup Finals (Go Bruins!).

I love the World Rally Championship, but finding it on television these days…yeah, I wouldn’t even know where to start.

I like Formula 1.

I don’t like NASCAR, but I find it fascinating on a cultural level.

When I’m in Scotland in March I’m going to try to get to a shinty match.

I think the biggest surprise (unless you follow me on Twitter!) is that I DETEST big time college sports, particularly football and basketball.  Part of it is not being able to reconcile my background in and respect for higher education with the farce that is Division One football and basketball.  I whole-heartedly believe in the concept of intercollegiate sports, but at the end of the day, they are ancillary.  I’m ready to go off on a rant here, but I’ll spare you…

No real guilty pleasures.  I’ll watch almost any sport a few times just to learn about it.

4) Philosophically for or against (or, perhaps more accurately, believe can be successful) the attempts to “quantify”/analyze what happens on the pitch (ie, “moneyball”-ization of football)? Believe it can/will ultimately be successful?

I’m not sure where I stand on this.  On the one hand, I think one of the beautiful things about the beautiful game is that there is so much about it that cannot be quantified, but I think there are some things (passing accuracy) that can tell you a lot about a player’s worth/effectiveness.  That being said, I’m not sure you can build a whole team around it.  After all, I think one of the lessons of Billy Beane’s time with the A’s is that while the moneyball approach can be more economical, can get more out of lesser players (sum of the whole is greater than its parts), and can improve a team, it alone does not create winners or champions.  That being said, I think that teams like the Red Sox have applied parts of it to great effect because they were starting at a better baseline of player to begin with.  But back to soccer.

If there’s going to be an impact I think it will be on the financial and tactical fronts.  I think Ross County are a good example of this.  since they bounced back from a season in the Second Division in 2007-2008 I think they have shown that a club of modest means (like the A’s?) can have success by spending money wisely, developing talent in house, and by bringing in a) young players looking to make a name for themselves before moving on to bigger and better things, b) players whose careers have stalled and need a chance to restart them (Ivan Sproule comes to mind), or c) players who may not have the full package of skills, but who, when combined with other complimentary players, make the whole team better.  I think, however, that County may now be reaching a point of diminishing returns, that is, while I think they can stay in the SPL with this approach, I don’t know that they can flourish.  This season will go a long way towards answering that question as a lot of talent won’t be returning.

5) Any odd/small/unlikely clubs (other than Ross County) you have a soft spot for around the world?

No.  I think if anything, I have a soft spot for clubs that go about their business (on and off the field) in the “right” way, as I believe County do.  I also love to see the mighty fall, especially if pride has gone before the fall.  Not enough bad stuff can happen to the Rangers Newco.  I know that they probably will win consecutive promotions right back into the SPL, but I’d love to see a few bumps in their road- maybe not being able to get out of the Second Division this year?  (Actually, I think they’ll win it, but I think they might struggle to get out of the First Division in 2014-2015)  I wouldn’t mind the same fate befalling Celtic as well.  Chelsea and Manchester City also can’t fail hard enough for me.

6) Combat Rock – criminally underrated, or an album too far. Discuss.

This is a juicy one!  First off, it is not a masterpiece, especially by the Clash’s standards, but it is a very, very good album.  The first “problem” is that somehow people have gotten the idea that the Clash “sold out”- they didn’t.  They were signed to a major label from day one, and with the exception of the two songs that became hits, there is nothing else on the album that- at the time– would have been commercially/radio viable.  For whatever reason, “Rock the Casbah” and “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?” blew up, but that doesn’t diminish them as good songs- which both are.  But let’s set those aside for the moment.  Is there a Clash record on which either “Straight to Hell” or “Know Your Rights” would not have fit, and more than that, would not been one of the best songs on said album?  I say “no.”  Yes, there’s some dead weight on the album (“Car Jamming” comes to mind), but for every song like that there’s a “Ghetto Defendant” or “Sean Flynn” which would have been right at home on Sandinista!– and I mean that as a compliment.

The other important thing to remember is that Combat Rock (or whatever it might have been called) was supposed to be another double album, but after being duped into releasing London Calling (two records) and Sandinista! (three records!) for single record prices, CBS wasn’t having it.  If you want to see what it was supposed to be, search “Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg” on Wikipedia.  I’m not saying this would have been a “better” album, but it would have made much more sense in the Clash “canon.”

Oh, and for the record, the worst Clash album was Give ’em Enough Rope.  Cut the Crap?  Not a Clash album.

7) Where’s the link to the background story re: Ross County. Love the whole story.

I think I’ve done this in “stand alone” form at some point, but the basics can be found here.

 

If any of Joe’s questions or my answers have inspired you to ask a few of your own questions, send them along!

Also, Joe, please do give me your answers to these questions in the comments!

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8 comments on “Well, since you asked…

  1. jjf3
    June 22, 2013

    here goes:
    When I saw “The Alarm”, my first thought was “No F-in way!”. I still have their EP on vinyl, and “Standards” on CD. No Wikipedia necessary…

    1) what are a few of your all-time favorite bands that have meant the most to you, even if not as much today.
    REM – still my all time favorite band, though as they and I have aged, I’ve listened to them less often. “Discovered” them my freshman year in college, and they were the primary soundtrack to a large part of my adulthood so far.
    That Petrol Emotion – my Wikipedia look-up. Really good punk-influenced rock, from some of the members of the shoulda-been-famous Undertones, joined by an American singer.
    New Order – still enjoy mid-to-late 80’s dance music
    Sex Pistols – the anger and the sneer still come through like it wasn’t 35(!) years ago
    Interpol – my favorite “current” band, by a large margin

    2) any currently active and relevant bands you like/listen to, whether all-time fave or not
    Interpol – have never understood the “if you like Joy Division” comments, but since I like both, maybe they’re onto something
    Black Keys – if you’re going to recycle sounds and styles, you better bring something extra to the table, and they definitely do
    Dead Combo – don’t sound like anything else out there. Heard them on a Bourdain show about Lisbon, and bought a few CD’s quickly afterward.

    3) big fan of any of the other major US sports? Or any of the more “European” ones? Any guilty pleasures in there -maybe not a huge fan of, but like more than you’d care to admit?
    Still a big baseball fan. I keep track of most other “major” sports, but limit most of my watching to Finals/Super Bowl/etc. Used to love playoff hockey, but all the owner shutdowns have killed my fandom…Given up on the NFL because I think its essentially our version of the Roman gladiators. Love curling every 4 years when it shows up in the Olympics. And NASCAR is my guilty pleasure – follow it much more than I probably should, as I was raised with it by my parents, who love it.

    4) philosophically for or against (or, perhaps more accurately, believe can be successful) the attempts to “quantify”/analyze what happens on the pitch (ie, “moneyball”-ization of football)? Believe it can/will ultimately be successful? I’m glad to see much more rigorous analysis making its way into the sport, as it is into all the major sports. And I suspect that, while football will take longer to quantify, it will eventually happen. The idea that sports are big businesses, and should be run like them, is one that I wish wasn’t a reality of our time, but I also have no interest of going back and living in the 1880’s just so I can have the “purity” of sport. So, given that, then it makes sense to run them properly, and having some idea what your assets are, and how to use them best, is a pretty simple minimum requirement.

    5) any odd/small/unlikely clubs (other than Ross County) you have a soft spot for around the world?
    I don’t have any special ones, but I find myself drawn to smaller teams in cities I visit around the world, so now I try to keep an eye on teams like Atletico Rio Negro and Sorrento, but none have “stuck” for special treatment/attention.

    6) Combat Rock – criminally underrated, or an album too far. Discuss.
    Criminally underrated. I can understand some of the knee-jerk reaction to Casbah and Stay or Go being hits, but the album is pretty solid throughout. Know Your Rights is still one of my favorite Clash songs, and I still love Car Jamming and Atom Tan for their sound, even if they aren’t truly great songs. And your note reminded me that it wasn’t technically the last Clash album, which I had either forgotten or chosen to wipe from my memory. I also realized that I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen the cover, or an actual physical copy, of Cut the Crap. So it doesn’t exist, obviously.

  2. weefuse
    June 23, 2013

    It’s not everyday I can mention the Alarm and not get a blank stare in return- you’ve earned a “+1” in my book!

    1) I love R.E.M. and have been listening to them a lot lately. I really think they should have called it a day when Bill Berry quit, though. I bought “New Adventures in Hi-Fi” and “Up,” but except for two or three songs I could have done without them and everything else that came afterwards. All of those albums should have been called “Michael Stipe and R.E.M.” and I don’t mean that in a good way. Rather than end of a negative note, however, consider this: Mike Mills was the most important member of the group. He wrote almost all of the music and, in my opinion, is backing vocals/harmonies were the key to every good song they ever made. Discuss.

    I’ll have to take a listen to That Petrol Emotion/Undertones- I know both names, but I can’t say I’ve heard either one- not knowingly anyway.

    Two related anecdotes:

    -A former teaching colleague (who is a HUGE “hair metal” fan to my constant amusement) of mine texted me about a year ago and send something along these lines, “Dude! I just listened to “Never Mind the Bollocks…” for the first time- it’s amazing!!” Yeah, it is.

    -I remember to this day the afternoon in the fall of 1995 when my friend Mike and I pooled our money and went into Greenlaw’s Music (still in business!) in Laconia, NH (the “city” next to our hometown) and bought two records that we’d “heard of”, but never actually heard- New Order’s “Low-Life” and the Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Psychocandy.” After we both taped both of them, he ended up with “Low-Life” and I ended up “Psychocand”- a record which, coincidentally, BLEW MY MIND!! That they turned out to be Scottish was just a bonus!

    2) Yeahhhhh…Interpol…Snow Patrol…Arcade Fire…Arctic Monkeys…Muse…MGMT…etc. I guess I’m just too old. I want them to get off of my lawn and go and get a haircut!
    I forgot Dead Combo had been on Bourdain’s show! I stumbled upon them while reading about Ennio Morricone (who I also like) online.

    3) I still watch the NFL. By “watch” I mean I get home from work, take a shower, put the Patriots on, and fall asleep on the couch. I REALLY wish that I lived somewhere that I could try curling- I like watching it and I think I could become obsessed with playing it. Hmm…I’ll have to add that to my trip itinerary for the spring!

    4) As I said, I’m not sure how much of the “on the field” aspects of Moneyball will spill into the football world, but I’m in favor of just about ANYTHING that will bring some financial discipline into the game- especially in Scotland. I enjoyed Rangers’ demise, but the Hearts saga just makes me sad.

    5) I’ve got four SPL matches on my itinerary for my trip in March, but my secondary goal is to get so see some Highland/Lowland League matches mainly because I’d like to see what the level of play is like. Many of these clubs have been around for 100+ years and that makes me think that the level must be good, but I want to see for myself.

    6) The other album Combat Rock reminds me of the most is Sandinista (and this would be even MORE the case if C.R. had come out as a double album as intended) as they both have that, “Let’s just record everything- regardless of style- and figure it out later.” One of my favorite mental games to play is, “what songs would you keep if you had to turn Sandinista into a double album?” or even more challenging, a single record? I’d argue that you could turn Sandinista into almost as good an album as London Calling if you chose the right songs.

  3. Pingback: You’re missing out! | the tanner ba'

  4. jjf3
    June 24, 2013

    No question in my mind Mills was the real soul of REM. Stipe’s lyrics/vocals/mumbling were one of the things that helped pull me in originally, but it was ultimately the music that mattered the most. And I’m with you on the “Stipe and REM” view of the band – at some point Stipe’s presence/persona outgrew the internal dynamics of the band, and the albums definitely went downhill from there, above and beyond the simple aging of the band.
    Love Jesus and Mary Chain, but I remember finding Psychocandy just sonically overwhelming the first few times I heard it, almost punishingly so. It took me a long time to really appreciate it.
    Regarding the current music scene, I’m with you on almost all of the other bands other than Interpol. Muse I at least find somewhat interesting, though I wouldn’t call myself a fan. The rest you listed are just blah. For me, throw the Killers in there too – holy crap, they are useless – I couldn’t believe how much good press they got for Sam’s Town. But Interpol I love. Eh, who knows?
    While on the music topic – two other bands, 1 old, 1 new. Shriekback probably peaked (in my mind) with Oil and Gold (and there’s a strong argument that their stuff before that album was even better), but they’re still going today, and making interesting music, but they have lost some of that “edge” of youth. More currently, I also really like BRMC – my first thought when I heard them was “somebody spent a lot of time with Dad’s Jesus and Mary Chain albums”, but they’ve expanded their repertoire over the last few albums. Why, yes, I still have a shit load of vinyl, and still buy CD’s, and don’t bother with MP3’s cause I can’t stand the sound loss…why do you ask?

    I’d love to do a trip like the one you’re planning, and seeing some of the lower league games would be great – I absolutely love watching the early FA Cup games played in the smaller stadiums, and seeing the teams that still “represent” and are integral to the towns they come from. Spending a match or two in those types of venues would be a joy…
    Of course, I still need to make it to Ewood first. 🙂

  5. weefuse
    June 25, 2013

    I would forgive all of the sins of all of those bands I listed if I could be guaranteed that somebody would “eliminate” Bon Iver, Grizzly Bear, Mumford and Sons, Iron and Whine (heh), the Decemberists, etc. from the face of the Earth. Ugh.

    Yeah. Pscychocandy was one of those records that just made you realize that you had to reassess your concepts of “music,” “noise,” etc. and when you finally opened up to it- wow.

    I’ve tried several times to get into BRMC for just the reasons you suggest, but somehow it just hasn’t worked.

    This is totally tangential to our discussion, but I remember the first time I realized how to understand Joe Strummer’s lyrics (especially post-Clash)- he’s an impressionist! If you focus on a single idea/image you’re lost. But, if you just step back for a second and let the whole song “happen,” you get it. “Bhindi Bhagee” is a perfect example of this.

    As to the F.A. Cup…every year I’m just blown away by the passion supporters at clubs 8,9, or 10 levels down the pyramid. Their club has been around for 100+ years, it will never play league football, the players are part time, the park might only have 100 seats, yet bring in some club desperately clinging to life at the bottom of League Two and it might as well be Barcelona! And if they win…

  6. jjf3
    June 25, 2013

    I was never someone particularly interested in the inner workings of the bands I liked, but I remember reading two different articles (at different times) that provided some insight into REM. One included an entire paragraph about how “Superman” was ultimately recorded – that Mills had heard this obscure song previously (among many others, implying that he was the “musicologist” among them) and thought it was perfect for them to record, and most of the band (whether “most” was Stipe, Buck, Berry, or some combo I don’t recall) didn’t think so, but Mills pestered them repeatedly until it ended up getting made (with Mills on lead vocals I believe). The other included a conversation with Buck, and he came across as pretty much the anti-“lead guitarist” in personality, which made it pretty clear he wasn’t really driving much of the musical direction/band vision. I also saw them during one tour where they swapped instruments for a few songs, and it seemed pretty clear that Mills was more than comfortable away from the bass – not sure you could really say the same for the others.
    There was a very long period of time during which if I made a mixed tape for you, Superman was bound to be on it somewhere.

  7. Martinovich
    May 5, 2014

    “I hate a song that makes you feel like you’re no good. I hate a song that makes you feel like you’re born to lose, like you’re bound to lose. Makes you feel like you’re nobody, and no good to nobody. You’re too thin, you’re too fat, you’re too old, you’re too young, or you’re too this or you too that. I’m out to fight those songs with every ounce of breathe in my body.”

    I have no idea how I missed this conversation last year, but have always considered The Alarm one of those bands that were “mine” because finding other fans always seemed futile. Have owned Electric Folklore on both cassette and cd, and just introduced them to my wife last week on a road trip from LA to Wisconsin, where she grew up. She asked me how she’d never heard of them, and I had to cough and relate that they were a little before her time. (She’s 33, a decade+ younger than me). Finding two other fans on the same footy blog is surreal. 🙂

  8. weefuse
    May 5, 2014

    Better late than never! Seriously, though, to this day the best live band I’ve ever seen and the closest I’ve come to having a “spiritual” experience. Not to make you jealous or anything, but I was at every show they used (Wang Theater and Orpheum Theater) on the “Electric Folklore” album. 🙂

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This entry was posted on June 19, 2013 by in Celtic F.C., Ross County F.C., Site Business.
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