Thursday, April 19, 2018

I Do The ROCK - get no Pulitzer Prize - birthday man TIM CURRY

    Here’s a live version of “I Do De Rock” from Tim Curry, born April 19, 1940. Back when he was touring in support of this song and others on his solo albums, he told me that he was very serious about having a career in rock. He wasn’t just trying to make a buck off his rock star cult status from “Rocky Horror.” He liked, appreciated and wanted to be a part of ROCK, more than movies. (PS, in person the mild-mannered fellow was nothing like Frank-N-Furter.) 

    Maybe he loved the rock too much; for many listeners his first album's tracks were a bewildering mix of rock and pop genres, including a strut (“Birds of a Feather”), a stomp (“Wake Nicodemus”), cabaret balladry (“Alan”), oldies bombast (“Anyone Who had a Heart”) and the obligatory Beatles cover (“I Will”). When he had the chance to trade on “Rocky Horror” he didn’t. His cover of “All I Want” (by Joni Mitchell) has a line, “bop till I drop in some jukebox dive.” That was his substitution for Joni’s original “rip my stockings in some jukebox dive.” That’s how much he did NOT want to carry over his crossdressing image...which probably disappointed the "Rocky" cult. 

    The next album, still hoping for a big rock audience, had some punchier rock, with Dick Wagner one of the co-producers. Alice Cooper could’ve sung some of the rock-angst-roll numbers (“Hide This Face” “Right on the Money”).  Tim had another Joni cover, rocking up “Cold Blue Steel,” and even a campy bit of comedy in “Charge It” (about trendy shopping).  As for “I Do The Rock,” it was reggae rock…with a dash of parody (one would assume...he co-wrote it). And he brought all this, and more, to his tours, but like everyone from Jim Carroll to Warren Zevon, he was a critics’ darling, seemed to have manic fans, but the cult was actually small. Small clubs, small sales. And soon he was back to making movies.  

    You do de rock…and you don’t always get de respect. Have you noticed that rockers get real stupid when talking about their art form? Maybe that's why classical and jazz have always been taken more seriously as an art form. Classical and jazz tend to appeal to people with expensive tastes, and you wear a suit to a concert and buy state-of-the-art stereo equipment. Rock? Not so much. Consider the truly moronic anthem “I Love Rock and Roll.” How about the dimwitted and jeering “I Know It’s ONLY Rock and Roll (But I Like It).” You can throw in witless song titles like “Rock and Roll Never Forgets.” Maybe this is why doing de rock NEVER got anyone a Pulitzer. Not The Beatles. Not Dylan. Not Paul Simon. Not Joni Mitchell. Not Leonard Cohen. NOBODY. 

    The Pultizer Prize for music, for the past 70 years, has ONLY been awarded to  CLASSICAL and JAZZ. Until a weird exception last week. 

    The irony is this: can any reasonable music lover name a worthwhile piece of classical music composed later than World War II? No. Prokofiev was the last gasp. Can anyone name a challenging piece of modern jazz that isn’t a discordant shit-mess? Miles was the last gasp, and nothing past the Vietnam War. So who was winning the Pulitzer Prize classical music honors from 1945 onward, with the spice of some jazz victories now and then? Go ahead and Google and you’ll find hideous classical from Roger Sessions and numbing jazz from Wynton Marsalis. You won’t find experimental works that you can stand for more than five minutes. 

    What about experimental works such as “Revolution #9” by The Beatles? What about those Frank Zappa albums which he orchestrated with fanatical care? You can be experimental…even unlistenable…in other categories besides CLASSICAL and JAZZ, can’t you? Not according to the Pulitzer Prize committee. But last week Kendrick Lamar could’ve sung, “I DO DE PULITZER.”

    Why this happened, who knows. Nobody dares to complain, either, the way they did when Bob Dylan got the Nobel Prize after 50 solid years of great, challenging, artistic music in many genres, and classic songs everyone knows and loves. “Damn” is the name of his album, and my reaction to his fucking Pulitzer. His brand of rap is being taken way too seriously, which certainly has to piss off Jay-Z and Kanye and even Cardi B. Sapristi, Roger Waters’ brown-shirts must be wondering, “What about THE WALL?” I mean, how obnoxious do you have to be before the Pulitzer people take notice? And let’s not ask why “Sgt. Pepper” or “Tommy” or various “classical rock” concoctions and hybrids 

(“Preservation Act I and 2” by The Kinks) never made it. I could add Jethro Tull’s discs but that would be living in the past. The fact is, the present belongs to some pretty bad music, and we can add Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Adele, Taylor Swift, Coldplay, and almost all of today’s “faves” to the stinking stew. But let’s return to our spicy bit of Curry. 

    “I Do The Rock” didn’t get nominated for a Grammy for “Best Comedy Performance,” and Curry’s stuff, when vinyl died and CD took over, barely made it to one “Best of” that was quickly remaindered. Do the ROCK, and you do not get de respect or de Pulitzer Prize. Funny, Lamar’s album might also be the FIRST Pulitzer Prize winning music you can actually find via piracy downloads for free. In this case, it’s worth every penny you spent. 

I Do the ROCK from the Bottom Line in NYC - no dopey passwords or "your Adobe is out of date download spyware" game

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