Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The Grumpy Old Men

From time to time, you've heard me drop a mention on this page of what I refer to as "The Grumpy Old Men" of YouTube. I have to admit, I call them that somewhat ironically, as 1. For the most part, they're not that Grumpy. I'm probably grumpier; and 2. I'm 99% sure that I'm older than all three of them.

The three gentlemen I'm mostly referring to when I use this term are: 1. Pete Pardo from the YouTube channel Sea of Tranquility (seaoftranquility.org); 2. Ant (that's the only name I was able to find for him) from the YouTube channel RushTrader (rushtrader.com); 3. David Spuria - from the YouTube channel The Real Music Observer (therealmusicobserver.blogspot.com).

All three cover a significant amount of classic and/or progressive rock, and all three are definitely opinionated. What I mean by this is that all three are veteran music fans who have reached a point in life where they're not afraid to say what they think, whether people agree with them not. They tend to talk about new and classic albums, current tours, and whatever other music topics pop into their heads.

I'll be honest -- I tend to enjoy Pardo and Ant more than Spuria -- I find him to be the most sarcastic of the three. And I often disagree with all of them. But I do like to keep up with them and check in with what they have to say from time to time.

Topics where I've disagreed with them have included:

1. Styx. Both Ant and Spuria love Dennis DeYoung, and have a real problem with the fact that Tommy Shaw and J.Y. Young not only threw DeYoung (the primary songwriter) out of the band a number of years back, but that they are emphatic about not wanting to reunite with him, even though they concede it would be a big payday. Consequently, they both endorse seeing Dennis DeYoung and his current band over seeing Shaw and Young's version of the band (which has the legal right to the name "Styx".)

I saw both versions of the band last year, and honestly, I felt that it was six of one and half a dozen of the other music-wise -- both versions of Styx are fun, neither version is earth-shaking. Let's face it -- Styx ain't Yes.

As for the DeYoung controversy, I get the argument that DeYoung is the guy who wrote all the hits, and it's a shame he's being blackballed from joining his old band. But on the other hand, if you saw the Mike Wallace interview with Shaw and Young, it's obvious that both of them find DeYoung endlessly annoying, and that they'd pretty much rather hang themselves than have to be in a band with him again. And watching DeYoung, I can sort see that he'd be an irritating person to have to be in close quarters with. Although in his defense, he's been married to the same woman for almost 50 years now, so I guess he's not that aggravating to her. But to me, you get to choose who you want to play with. And if just the thought of playing with a given person gives you hives, then you've got a right to pass, and live a happier life.

2. Fleetwood Mac. I think all of them were very down on Fleetwood Mac after they dumped Lindsey Buckingham (although I could be mistaken about that in Pardo's case). I didn't have a problem with it. There have been renditions of the band without Stevie Nicks over the years, and renditions without Christine McVie. (And it's not even the first time since joining that they've gone out without Buckingham in the band). Again, I get that Buckingham was hugely important for many years as the musical leader of the band who did all of the arranging, etc. But to me, there's a reason why Stevie Nicks is the only FM member who's in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame both as a member of Fleetwood Mac and as a solo artist. She's the star. And in terms of the songs I love the best, Buckingham was the band's third best songwriter, after Ms. Nicks and Ms. McVie.

Plus, I have to admit that I was curious to see what Mike Campbell and Neil Finn would bring to the table in the most recent FM lineup. I saw them live, and I enjoyed the show. It was kind of cool to hear "Don't Dream It's Over" and "Free Fallin'" thrown into a Fleetwood Mac set. And as it unfortunately turned out, if they'd have waited for Buckingham to go out on tour with them, they'd have had to cancel the tour anyway. This past February, Buckingham had open heart surgery that injured his throat. So you wouldn't have had Buckingham out for a full tour no matter what. These guys are all pretty long in the tooth these days, so who knows if there will be another tour after this one. But if they go out again, and if Buckingham recovers his voice (or even if he just plays guitar), and if everyone involved was amenable to a reunion, would I be up for it? Hell yeah! But I'm still glad I didn't skip this year's tour.

3. Yes. (Are you sensing a theme here?) This is another band that had two different versions of it out on tour last year -- the version with Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman, and the version with Steve Howe, Alan White and Geoff Downes, among others. This was another case where I think all three were all-in on the ARW version of the band, although there were also some suggestions that Yes should just hang it up. I only saw the Howe version of the band, both last year and this year. I missed ARW when they came around the first time, and now it looks like they won't be coming back -- both Anderson and Wakeman are touring solo this year. (I'll be seeing Anderson, although it looks like I'll unfortunately miss Wakeman.) There was a unanimous version between the three (as I remember) that the ARW version was the more legitimate version. I think both versions were equally legitimate. I think you can just as easily say "It's not Yes without Howe" (I'm not a huge Trevor Rabin fan) and you can "It's not Yes without Anderson". (Wakeman has been in and out so often that while he's clearly -- and deservedly -- the most popular Yes keyboard player, you could never stake the legitimacy of the band on his presence or absence.)

Anyway, if you're a fan of classic and/or progressive rock, it might be worth your while to give one or all of these guys a watch. But don't be afraid to disagree with the grumpy old bastards. Unlike me, they're not always right.  :)