Guilty Pleasures: I

Being a frequent visitor of various music forums, especially those of the jazz kind, I know it’s best to keep one’s mouth shut when it comes to guilty pleasures. It won’t take long until people virtually leap at you once you have admitted to liking one or t’other band that does not fit the forum’s guidelines for good taste, human decency or simple emotive intelligence.

I have mouthed off, telling the people who did leap to take one themselves, at the moon, but after a while I learned to just keep my mouth shut and get on with it, not disturbing the atmosphere or the equilibrium that is jazz or music boards.

Because I’ve had a few glasses of Cuba Libre, the ones with lime and a special Venezuelan spice, I’m going to jump right out of the closet today and let you, the readers of this blog, in on some of my most guilty pleasures. Please refrain from insulting me, from throwing virtual tomatoes or from vomiting on the spot (on second thought, it’s not my carpet, so please do if you feel so inclined).

Guilty pleasures, you ask? The term itself is very difficult to explain, but I found a nice definition on Miss Kendy’s Blog:

A Guilty Pleasure is defined as something that would ruin us if our friends knew about it.

The first entries below maybe don’t fit your definition of the term, but in the light of my gradually changed taste in music, the entries yet to come and the people I “hang with” today, they certainly are and, yes, I have many of those guilty pleasures, many of which might drive people to suicide or to partial dismemberment of others or themselves.

I don’t feel bad about these LPs/CDs, simply because at one time or another they meant a lot to me, linked right into or perpetuated some emotional state that made the music memorable. I find it very hard to eradicate those feeling even if, at times, my intellect tells me that I shouldn’t like all of it. My intellect also tells me (that would be that tiny red devil sitting, in my case, on both shoulders, the kneecaps and the left bun) that I shouldn’t be excusing any of it, because it was an important part of my life at some point, so I won’t.

Additionally, if you have been following the various reincarnations of this site, you must have noticed the highly erratic and eclectic choice of recordings presented and discussed in the past, the positively wild leaps from one genre to the next, from extremely loud to close to silent, from chamber-type music to wall-to-wall monster sound. It’s simple: I like a lot of different things.

Here are the first three.

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Guilty Pleasures I: Frampton Comes Alive!

Numero uno: Peter Frampton’s “Frampton Comes Alive” (1976) is an LP (which I once bought) or CD (which I rebought twice) that taps right into a part of my inner self that many people can’t see or that only a few people really know about.

It was an album I purchased when I was on a school trip to England, an album, which has stayed close to my heart through all these years that have passed since. I was totally frustrated about not being able to play it until I returned home four weeks later and throughout the rather wild journey, I guarded it with my life (together with numero two-o below) and upon my return, my parents only got to see a lightening streak as I ran to my room, fired up my stereo and started blasting it away in decent sound.

I have since rebought it in digital form, twice, and next to the original LP, I favor the Universal Deluxe Edition that was reissued in 2001. I have read all the critical reviews, frowned upon the thrashing some or all tunes received, and I simply don’t care. From “Something’s Happening”, a great opener on side one to “Shine On” (old LP) or “Day’s Dawning” (reissue), this spectacular live recording is one that I know every note of.

I remember sitting together with friends, listening closely to the famous guitar and voice-box solo on “Do You Feel Like We Do” (with a marvelous opening solo by Bob Mayo on the Fender Rhodes, accompanied very tastefully by John Siomos on drums), learning the whole thing note by note, debating what it must have been like being at a Frampton live concert at the time. I remember that “Lines on My Face” was one of the very first songs that actually made me think about the lyrics, I recall being one of the few people on this planet who actually loved Frampton’s version of “Jumping Jack Flash” (probably because of the fat drum sound and some very nifty rhythm guitar here and there), and I won’t forget the night I spent with three friends, turning the sides over and over again, listening to the double-LP all night long, enjoying the warm summer night in Copenhagen, Denmark, fantasizing about what we were going to do when we were older (of course, we all wanted to be musicians). Still today, listening to this CD is an intense emotional experience.

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Guilty Pleasures I: London Town

Numero two-o: When it comes to emotional experience, Paul McCartney’s “London Town” (1977), the second LP I brought home from England, is right up there with very few other recordings. The same summer, the same atmosphere, the friends, first “real” parties, first girlfriend, feeling free and at the same time older than I really was – listening to “London Town“, “With a Little Luck” and so many other good songs just kick-starts that grainy film of summers past that brings back a rush of emotions, all of them good.

As silly as that sounds, and aside from the tons of funky 70s tunes I already called my own, I still consider “Cuff Link” one of the funkiest things I’ve ever heard, no matter what other people say. So, shoot me.

On top of that, this 1976 release also contains one of my favorite songs, a timeless classic in my book, “I’m Carrying“. This sparsely arranged love song is as close to darn perfect as they come and together with Fleetwood Mac’s “Never Going Back Again” (Rumours, 1976), which I myself consider the best song within my 40 meter collection, bar none, I can completely immerse myself in times long-gone. But, the music is still there and “Cafe on the Left Bank” still reminds me of sitting in Copenhagen’s then untainted harbour, on deckchairs, guzzling cool beer, laughing and debating, enjoying the cool evening breeze after a day of strolling all around the inner city, goofing around. Pure adolescent pleasure.

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Guilty Pleasures I: Killing Machine

Numero three-o: I’ve always kept music I once loved somewhere close or closer to my emotional center but I have to admit that there were times when I tried to hide those favorite records or tunes, simply because they weren’t cool (anymore) or didn’t fit the peer groups I had drifted into. So, when I entered my “NWoBHM” phase (“New Wave of British Heavy Metal“), a phase which lasted quite some time, Frampton, McCartney and so many others had to go into hiding behind the somewhat ghastly Iron Maiden and Judas Priest etc. covers decorating my walls. Many single tunes remain favorites today, but of all the bands I listened to that time only one has stood the test of (my) time: Judas Priest.

I know that they put out lots of trash as well, but the releases from their earlier phase have both the raw power (the rhythm guitar work at the end of “Steeler” on “British Steel” is still some of the best power music I’ve ever heard) AND the intelligence often absent in whatever constitutes “Heavy Metal” or “Hard Rock” today.

When I need to cleanse myself after a week of 16 hour workdays, I often kick off the weekend with “Delivering the Goods“, “Hell Bent for Leather” (off “Killing Machine“), their live album “Unleashed in the East” with “Exciter” and “The Green Manalishi” (originally by Fleetwood Mac) or any of the albums before and including “British Steel”.

I’m still of the opinion that Les Binks was the only worthwhile drummer they ever had (Simon Philips, who did some studio work for them earlier on, came in a close second), but Dave Holland (later a convicted child molestor, hence the missing link here), who is often considered to be the worst they ever had, wasn’t half bad either, laying a punch-solid groove which suited me quite fine, thank you.

The wonderful rhythm guitar work of K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton was second to none and maybe, at times, only rivaled by some of the work of the various Thin Lizzy guitarist tag teams. Rob Halford, a screamer who suited the music perfectly, and who has regrouped with the Priest for a second season of power metal in 2005, is still at the top of my list for that kind of music, together with David Lee Roth and Phil Lynott, and when Judas Priest is making my floors shake, anything negative experienced in the days before falls off within an instant. Headbanging is way beyond my age, but I’ve been thinking about what it would be like if …

Posted by Volkher Hofmann

Volkher Hofmann (deus62) has been blogging on and off since the 1990s and deus62.com is all that is left. He loves music, literature, drumming and, most of all, real life. He thinks the open web is much more important than social networks, closed-in ecosystems and other severely commercialized online endeavors.

  1. Excellent article. Once again, I fully agree.

    Call them guilty pleasures, call them old favorites, maybe even skeletons…..we all have them.  Being the resident Rocker and Metalhead in my circle of family/friends, it is a shock to them when I listen to something “softer”. Sure, I have my style (at 33 I still wear concert shirts) and I keep posters on my wall (KISS, UFO, Saxon, Priest) but there are just some things that a person enjoys that goes against the norm.

    Here are a few personal “guilty pleasures”:

    1. The Dixie Chicks – Pop/Country that is totally opposite from the norm for me. They have beautiful voices and can play their own instruments, they also put on one heck of a concert.

    2. Duran Duran, Men At Work, Human League, etc. – I grew up with MTV from the beginning, that’s my only excuse.

    3. Christmas Carols/Holiday music – If it has anything to do with the Holidays I will play it to death (Jingle Bells, Frosty the Snowman, The Grinch, etc.)

    Reply

  2. Nice to see you ‘round here again, Steve. I almost fell over bachwards when I saw how many of my upcoming guilty pleasures (yep, I know, it’s going to be a long series) you covered in your post right here.

    Some hints, you say? “Dallas 1pm”, “Cold Gin”, “Sin Wagon”, “Land Down Under”, “In Dulce Jubilo”, and, and, and. And there’s more. How about “Alternative Ulster”? “White Punks on Dope”?

    Hey, you’re my long-lost brother. 😉

    Stay tuned! 😉

    Reply

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