"Can you hear me?"

>> Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Okay, the truth is I haven't taken the Grammys seriously since the 1980s when the first-ever Grammy for Heavy Metal went to, ahem, Jethro Tull for an album that wasn't bad (Crest Of A Knave... hm, maybe I oughta pop that one into the CD player sometime soon, it's been a while) but also (a) wasn't metal and (b) wasn't as good an album as ...And Justice For All (which is metal) or as important as Nothing's Shocking (which I wouldn't call metal, either, but is still a better record than Knave) and (c) wasn't even that great a Jethro Tull album while we're at it (it's an okay record, but it doesn't even come close to touching Thick As A Brick or Aqualung, f'r'instance). Sure, you'd think I'd be big on the Grammys with my musical obsessions and whatnot, but they're a political exercise like the Oscars are; Tull didn't win because of Crest Of A Knave's merits, they won because they were kinda old like most of the people receiving ballots from NARAS and not nearly as scary or loud as Metallica, much less Jane's Addiction. And sure, that was more than twenty years ago, but I wouldn't expect it's changed since I mostly lost interest.

So you're wondering why I'm mentioning it, maybe? And the answer would be that I recently caught up on a bunch of Bruce Springsteen I didn't buy for some reason when it came out, including Working On A Dream, the title track of which won a prize Sunday. So, y'know, congratulations, Bruce; I have no idea what you were up against, but hey--love ya', man, nice prize and all that. Good job and stuff.

Anyway, this gives me a perfect excuse to find and share a performance of the first track off of Dream, a song that has been blowing my mind every time I've heard it on E Street Radio on Sirius/XM and is still blowing my mind when I play the CD. I cannot for the life of me understand how a song called "Outlaw Pete" could be this fucking awesome, but it is, it's more awesome than any song called "Outlaw Pete" has a right to be.

Bruce and the E Street Band, can you hear me?






2 comments:

Michael Rawdon Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 2:22:00 AM EST  

I believe Tull's Grammy was technically for Best Hard Rock or Heavy Metal Album, and it certainly was hard rock. (Basically, Martin Barre won the award.) I actually think it's one of their best albums. I'm not a big fan of Aqualung, as I prefer their folky stuff.

I didn't think much of Metallica's album, but then almost all their albums (well, the 3 or 4 from the 80s that I heard) sound the same to me. Ride The Lightning had a couple of moments, but they're just not in the same league as, say, Dream Theater.

Eric Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 10:17:00 AM EST  

To be fair, I think you're right about that technicality; and Crest is a hard rock album with some good moments (I'm a sucker for "Said She Was A Dancer" and "Farm On The Freeway" is kinda bitchin'; those aren't the only solid tracks, but they stand out to me). And you have a fair point about Barre deserving a prize for something.

But I still would say that Metallica was more deserving, not to mention Jane's Addiction. And I write that as someone who, of the three albums we're talking about, still only owns the one that won and owned it before it was nominated. Heck, I was even sort of sick of Jane's at the time and thought they were sort of over-rated, but even then it was clear that they were doing something big and kinda different while Tull was sort of treading water except, maybe, for the increased use of synths (a novelty for Tull, but no sounds you couldn't have found on a New Order or Depeche Mode album five years before). While we're at it, I'd have to add, too, that I've come to vaguely loathe Metallica. Their early work was kind of awesome, but their later petulance, whininess, musical recycling and shitty treatment of bassists makes 'em kind of an annoyance these days.

The award is a zero-sum game, but comparing the acts isn't. I'm not trying to knock Knave, which is an enjoyable record and fun to crank up, and is probably the high point from Tull's later years. And I think I'd rather listen to Knave than Nothing's Shocking, though I probably should pick up Justice one of these days. But if you're talking about the best album in a genre, it's not always the one we might like the most, strange as that may sound. There are guilty pleasures that are bad records and good records that are more appreciated than admired (I wouldn't say Knave falls into either of those categories, by the way). I just can't say Crest Of A Knave was the best "Hard Rock or Heavy Metal" album from that year; if I'm not mistaken, the members of Tull kinda agree with me.

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