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It's all about the music, dude! Sit down, relax and listen to some tunes.

Back in my punk rock days . . .

In college late 70's early 80's, I hated them both, but for different reasons. The Dead were huge with a large part of my fellow students (the Long Island Cocaine Cowboys I dismissively called them--I could be a snooty punk) but I thought the were boring and noodlely. "But you have to hear them while tripping," I was told. But when I took acid I preferred the Velvet Underground and the Cramps! Steely Dan I found too arch and affected; and their studio perfectionism clashed with the raw and direct aesthetic I admired.

Forty years later and as a much better listener, I find I like the Dead even less; their music holds no rhythmic, harmonic, or emotional interest for me. I consider their rhythm section inept (I greatly appreciate space in music, but without tension it is just the void,) Garcia a boring noodler, and the vocals both unlistenable and vapid. Worse, their sloppy and disengaged aesthetic has colonized "funk" music via the their Jam Band offspring (who at times have seemed determined to colonize the whole New Orleans music scene!) I am mystified that two of my biggest jazz heroes--Ornette Coleman and David Murray--played with them. Obviously they have bigger ears than I do, and they must have heard something there that I can't make.

Today I have greater appreciation for Steely Dan--for their craft and their cynical wit--but I wouldn't say I am a fan. Oddly enough, what turned me around a little bit on them was hearing Rickie Lee Jones' cover of "Showbiz Kids" with Richard Davis on bass--just a beautiful production of an interesting song.

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  • Back in my punk rock days . . . - belyin 23:22:13 10/01/20 (0)


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